SC takes suo moto cognizance of ‘problems and miseries’ of migrant labourers

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Supreme Court on Tuesday took suo moto cognizance of the “problems” and “miseries” of migrant labourers amid the coronavirus lockdown and noted that there have been certain lapses on part of the Centre and State governments in providing help.

A three-judge bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MR Shah said that even though the issue is being addressed at both Central and State levels, “effective and concentrated efforts are required to redeem the situation”.

The apex court relied upon news reports that have shown “unfortunate and miserable conditions of migrant labourers walking on foot and cycles from long distances”.

“We take suo motu cognisance of problems and miseries of migrant labourers who had been stranded in different parts of the country. The newspaper reports and the media reports have been continuously showing the unfortunate and miserable conditions of the migrant labourers walking on-foot and cycles from long distances,” the bench said.

The top court noted that there have been lapses on the part of Centre and state governments to provide them succour and says immediate measures are required to be taken by governments to provide travel, shelter and food facilities free of cost to migrant labours.

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It also issued notices to the Government of India, governments of all State and Union Territories in the country, asked them to file their responses on the matter and posted it for hearing on May 28. The court also sought the assistance of the Solicitor General in this regard.

“Although the Government of India and the State governments have taken measures yet there have been inadequacies and certain lapses. We are of the view that effective concentrated efforts are required to redeem the situation,” the court said.

In its order, the court noted that migrant labourers have been complaining of not being provided food and water by the administration at places where they were stranded or in the way like highways from which they proceeded on-foot, cycles or other modes of transport.

“In the present situation of lockdown in the entire country, this section of the society needs succour and help by the concerned governments especially steps need to be taken by the government of India, state governments/Union Territories in this difficult situation to extend helping hand to these migrant labourers,” it added.

The court said that the crises of migrant labourers is continuing with large sections still stranded on roads, highways, railway stations and state borders and added that adequate transport arrangement, food and shelters are to be provided immediately by the Centre and state governments free of costs.

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