The Supreme Court on Monday sought the Centre’s response on any proposal to enable movement of stranded migrant workers back to their homes amidst lockdown.
The plea filed by Jagdeep Chhoka was taken up via video conferencing by Bench comprising of Justices NV Ramana, Sanjay Kishan Kaul, and BR Gavai.
The three-Judge Bench sought Centre’s response on the plea for the return of migrant workers after testing them for COVID-19 within a period of one week.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan appearing for the petitioner informed the court that the fundamental rights of these migrants were being violated as over 90% of the stranded migrants were not receiving ration and essential items.
Opposing the submission Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the reports referred by the petitioner were incorrect. Mehta adding to the same said that the government is very concerned for the migrant workers and is looking into the issue.
Assuring the court that the centre is in consultation with the states on this subject and that a status report shall be filed within two weeks, Mehta asked the court not to issue a notice on this plea as it would send out a wrong message.
The Court, however, granted the Centre one week’s time to respond to the plea with steps that shall be taken to allow inter-State movement of the migrant workers back to their places of residence.
The PIL was filed urging the Supreme Court to direct the Centre to test migrant workers stranded in the cities for COVID-19 and thereafter allow them to return to their native places if they tested negative for the same. The plea also prayed that the centre should ensure the safe travel of these workers.
The petitioner added that these migrant workers were the most vulnerable class of people in this health crisis.
The centre had lodged all the migrant workers to various shelter homes on March 31 and had ceased all internal migration to contain the spread of the pandemic.
However, the petition added that fundamental rights of these workers under Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution of India were being violated and had sought the return of these migrant workers to their homes especially as the lockdown had extended until May 3.
In view of extension of the lockdown the petitioner prayed that the government should be directed to conduct tests for COVID-19 for these workers and allow the ones who test negative to return home. Amidst these circumstances the petitioner also sought that the government should make proper arrangements for the safe return of these migrant workers to their homes.