A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking for payment of compensation by central and state government to all migrant workers who have succumbed to injuries and death during their journey back to native places.
The plea has been filed by Advocate Reepak Kansal averring that there have been news reports of serious accidents and deaths of migrants across the country were travelling back home during the nationwide lockdown. The petitioner submitted thatthe situation required indulgence of the Court so as to “protect and safeguard the human and fundamental rights” of migrant workers.
While pointing out that the Top Court’s reputation has been affected after it accepted the submission of the Central Government on March 31,“that there were no migrant workers on the roads anymore as governments had ensured that they were being housed and fed”, the plea avers that High Courts across the country have been pro-active in protecting the rights of migrant workers. The plea contends that the Central Government had not produced “true facts” before the Supreme Court on March 31.
The petition for safeguarding migrants stated
“Believing on the submission of Central Government, the court accepted the submission. It is highlighted by the Press and effected the reputation of this Hon’ble Court. On the other hand various High Courts came forward to protect the fundamental rights of migrant workers.”
The petition further seeks directions to ensure that proper medical facilities are provided to injured migrant workers as well as others who are on their way or have reached destination.
The petition stated,
“The problem of migrant workers is not entirely unique to India, but this sudden lock-down without prior arrangements and facilities, make them more sufferer by denying protection of their human rights as well as fundamental rights. There was no proper arrangement & facilities for these migrant labors prior to announcement of nation lock-down and these migrant labor are forced to live where they were or towards their native place”
The plea also pointed out the alleged discrimination faced by migrant workers against those who are stranded abroad, highlighting that the Central Government has introduced a massive mission titled “Vande Bharat” for emigrants. However, migrant workers remained excluded from any benefit.
“….there is discrimination with these interstate migrant workers while introducing a massive mission titled as Vande Bharat by respondent / Central Government to bring back those got stuck in other countries due to the global Covid-19 situation by excluding the interstate migrants workers” – Excerpt of plea
Further, It is stated that the Government was adopting a “pick and choose” policy to pay compensation to the deceased migrants, thereby highlighting the irresponsibility of the Central & State Government’s in taking appropriate action for protection of their fundamental rights under the Constitution of India.
The plea also emphasisesed on the international framework subsisting for protection of migrant workers and international obligations of India in terms ofArticles 7 & 8the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The plea stated,
“United Nations Convention constitutes a comprehensive international treaty regarding the protection of migrant workers’ rights. It emphasises the connection between migration and human rights. The Convention aims at protecting migrant workers and members of their families; its existence sets a moral standard, and serves as a guide and stimulus for the promotion of migrant rights in each country.”
The plea has also drwan corollaries in the Constitution of India to effectuate economic and social planning viz. item 20 of List III “which says that social planning body can provide leadership and facilitation in bringing together key people around a specific problem or issue”
Additionally, the petition also seeks directions to save the migrant labourers from atrocities of police and security agencies.