Begin typing your search above and press return to search.
Top Stories

Intervenors Move Supreme Court Seeking Directions To Centre & States To File Status Report On Compliance With SC's Directions For Welfare Of Migrants

Srishti Ojha
3 April 2022 3:35 PM GMT
Intervenors Move Supreme Court Seeking Directions To Centre & States To File Status Report On Compliance With SCs Directions For Welfare Of Migrants
x

Activists Harsh Mander, Anjali Bhardwaj and Jagdeep Chhokar have moved the Supreme Court seeking directions to the Union of India to file a status report with regard to compliance with the directions issued by the court last year for the benefit and welfare of migrant workers.The miscellaneous application filed through Advocate Prashant Bhushan has sought the following details through...

Activists Harsh Mander, Anjali Bhardwaj and Jagdeep Chhokar have moved the Supreme Court seeking directions to the Union of India to file a status report with regard to compliance with the directions issued by the court last year for the benefit and welfare of migrant workers.

The miscellaneous application filed  through Advocate Prashant Bhushan has sought the following details through the status report:

i. Steps taken with regard to undertaking exercise under Section 9 of the National Food Security Act, 2013 to re-determine the total number of persons to be covered under Rural and Urban areas of the State.

ii. Details of additional food grains provided by the Union of India to state governments in order to implement schemes for providing rations to migrant workers, including details of states which sought additional foodgrains, details of quantity provided etc.

Supreme Court through its order dated 29th June 2021 had issued a slew of directions including direction to all states to implement the "one nation, one ration card" scheme - which enables migrant workers to avail ration benefits from any part of the country.

A Bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice MR Shah had issued the directions in the suo moto case 'In Re Problems and Miseries of Migrant Workers' in which the present applicants were intervenors.

The present application has sought directions to the state governments to immediately implement the direction contained in the judgement dated 29.6.2021 to run community kitchens at prominent places where large number of migrant labourers are found to provide cooked food.

Further directions have been sought to file a status report indicating details of number of community kitchens set up by state governments and whether these kitchens are functional as on date.

The applicants have also sought directions to identify and hold responsible, the officers concerned in different States and the Centre for non compliance of this Supreme Court's Judgement in the migrants case. 

According to the applicants, there has been non compliance of directions issued to the Centre to re-determine the total number of persons to be covered in rural and urban areas in states for issuance of ration cards. The directions were issued taking cognisance of the fact that quotas under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) have not being revised since the 2011 census despite the increase in population.

The application has pointed out that as per the reply under the RTI Act received on an application filed by one of the intervenors, it was stated that the government has decided it will implement the direction only after publication of census data.

"This is despite the fact that as per official statements, the publication of the census has been delayed on account of COVID and the interim data is likely to be available only in 2023-24. This undue delay is at variance with the purpose of the judgment of this Hon'ble Court which is clearly to ensure basic relief and food security for economically vulnerable sections especially migrant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic." the application states

The application has further submitted that the Government of India till September 2021 made no additional allocation of foodgrains to any state government for providing foodgrains to migrant labourers in pursuance of Supreme Court's judgment, despite the fact that States of Telangana and Meghalaya had specifically sought additional foodgrains.

The applicants have argued that Union of India being well aware of the economic distress among people and the need to augment and ensure food security for economically vulnerable people has made special provision for relief to alleviate distress caused due to economic disruptions on account of COVID-19 only for those who possess ration cards .

According to applicants, this is discriminatory and a violation of Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution as economically vulnerable persons including migrant workers, who do not possess ration cards are also in dire need of measures for food security and therefore, the government must not discriminate merely on the basis of possession of ration card.

Background:

Supreme Court through its judgment dated 29th June had issued the following directions:

It is directed that the Central Government to develop the Portal in consultation with National Informatics Centre (NIC) for registration of the unorganized labourers/migrant workers. We also impress upon 76 and direct that the Central Government as well as the respective States and the Union Territories to complete the process of Portal for registration under National Data Base for Unorganised Workers (NDUW Project) as well as implement the same, which by all means may commence not later than 31.07.2021. We also impress upon and direct that the process of registration of the unorganized labourers/migrant workers is completed at the earliest, but not later than 31.12.2021. All the concerned States/Union Territories and the Licence Holders/Contractors and others to cooperate with the Central Government to complete the process of registration of migrant workers and unorganized labourers so that the benefits of the welfare schemes declared by the Central Government/State Governments/ Union Territories be available to migrant workers and unorganized labourers for whose benefits the welfare schemes are declared.

(ii) The Central Government having undertaken to distribute additional quantity of foodgrains as demanded by the States/Union Territories for distribution to migrant labourers under some Scheme framed by the States, we direct the Central Government, Department of Food and Public Distribution (Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution) to allocate and distribute foodgrains as per demand of additional food-grains from the States for disbursement of dry foodgrains to migrant labourers

iii) We direct the States to bring in place an appropriate scheme for distribution of dry ration to migrant labourers for which it shall be open for States to ask for allocation of additional foodgrains from the Central Government, which, as directed above, shall provide the additional foodgrains to the State. The State shall consider and bring an 78 appropriate Scheme, which may be implemented on or before 31.07.2021. Such scheme may be continued and operated till the current pandemic (Covid-19) continues.

(iv) The States, who have not yet implemented "One Nation One Ration Card" scheme are directed to implement the same by not later than 31.07.2021.

(v) The Central Government may undertake exercise under Section 9 of the National Food Security Act, 2013 to re-determine the total number of persons to be covered under the Rural and Urban areas of the State.

(vi) We direct all the States/Union Territories to register all establishments and license all contractors under the Act, 1979 and ensure that statutory duty imposed on the contractors to give particulars of migrant workers is fully complied with.

(vii) The State/Union Territories are directed to run community kitchens at prominent places where 79 large number of migrant labourers are found for feeding those migrant labourers who does not have sufficient means to procure two meals a day. The running of the community kitchen should be continued at-least till pandemic (Covid-19) continues.

On March 24, the bench had ordered that States and Union Territories should provide dry ration and run community kitchens for migrant labourers who are stranded due to the COVID pandemic and the lockdown. The bench had also directed the Centre and the States to complete the registration of migrants and unorganized workers in the common national data base so that they can avail of the various statutory welfare schemes.

The suo moto case, which was taken by the Supreme Court in May 2020 to deal with the problems of migrant workers during the national lockdown, was listed again for consideration in May this year during the second wave of the pandemic.

Case: Re: Problems and Miseries of Migrant Labourers [SMWP(C) 6/2020]


Next Story