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Reports Of Migrant Workers Not Getting Food & Wages Are Wrong : Solicitor General Tells SC

Sanya Talwar
27 April 2020 11:18 AM GMT
Reports Of Migrant Workers Not Getting Food & Wages Are Wrong : Solicitor General Tells SC
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The reports in media about migrant workers not getting wages and food during the lockdown period are wrong, said the Central Government in the Supreme Court on Monday. Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India, made this submission in a plea seeking directions to the Centre for effectuating safe transit of migrant workers to their homes amid lockdown, after being tested negative...

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The reports in media about migrant workers not getting wages and food during the lockdown period are wrong, said the Central Government in the Supreme Court on Monday.

Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India, made this submission in a plea seeking directions to the Centre for effectuating safe transit of migrant workers to their homes amid lockdown, after being tested negative for COVID-19.

When Advocate Prashant Bhushan submitted that numerous reports were fraught with the plight of migrant workers who were left with just "one day's ration" and therefore those who had "tested negative be allowed to go to their respective homes", Solicitor General Tushar Mehta stated that sending them back at this crucial stage would unleash the threat of infection on people in rural areas.

"There are reports by the Hindu which say that 96% of them (migrant workers) are not getting wages, they have very less food" Adv. Prashant Bhushan argued.

"These reports are wrong!" Countered the SG.



At this juncture, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul remarked at Bhushan, referring to some of his earlier comments,

"You don't have faith on us. How can we hear you? You have been with this institution for over 30 years, you shouldn't have said such things"

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta added:

"Every time Mr Bhushan looses, he goes to the lawns and says this is a Black day. You cannot run a Government as a PIL petitioner!"

Following this, SG expressed his discontent over the instant PIL and argued that since the Government had been taking all requisite measures to tackle the calamitous situation, "brilliant ideas from Mr. Bhushan were not needed".

Bhushan: "Please allow inter-state transportation [for migrant workers wishing to return home to their native places]"

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta: "This is none of your business! Government will see!"



Advocate Prashant Bhushan argued that he was only here in light of the gross violations of Fundamental rights of migrant workers in distress.



Additionally, SG argued that the petition must be disposed off as it "sends a wrong message" (to keep it pending)

After hearing both sides, the Court sought the Centre's planned proposal, if any, in tackling the issue at hand. 

"Union to respond on movement of migrant workers. We are only asking whether there is any proposal regarding this. You have one week to respond" the Bench ordered.

Several pleas, apart from the instant PIL, seeking access to basic amenities and medical supplies to migrant workers as well as payment of wages as they have been rendered destitute since the imposition of a nationwide lockdown have been taken up in Courts in the last four weeks. 

During the hearing of one of such petitions filed by Swami Agnivesh, the Solicitor General had remarked : "These are self employment generating petitions".

On April 3, while hearing a PIL filed by Harsh Mander on the plight of migrant workers, the Solicitor General had stated that "PIL Shops must close down till the country emerges out of this crisis"








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