New Delhi: Nearly two weeks after saying that it cannot stop guest labourers walking back to their villages or sleeping on railway tracks, the Supreme Court on Tuesday took suo motu cognisance of the “miseries of migrants” and said that “there have been inadequacies and certain lapses” in managing this human crisis.
Noting that “effective, concentrated efforts are required to redeem the situation,” the court issued notice to the Centre, states and Union Territories to place before it “all measures and steps taken and to be taken to redeem the miseries of migrant labourers” within 48 hours, by Thursday.
Referring to media reports that are “continuously showing the unfortunate and miserable conditions of migrant labourers walking on-foot and cycles” for long distances, and complaints by guest workers that they are “not being provided food and water by the administration” at places where they were stranded or on the highways, a three-judge bench said that although steps have been taken by the Centre and state governments, the “crisis of migrant labourers is continuing till today” and they need “succour and help” by the concerned governments.
“We are of the view that effective concentrated efforts are required to redeem the situation,” the bench, comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M.R. Shah, said in its order.
Asking Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to assist the court in the hearing of the matter, the court also asked him to place before it “all measures and steps taken by the Government of India and to be taken in this regard.” The court also issued notice to all the states and UTs, directing them to submit their response by Thursday.
The top court taking cognisance of the plight of guest workers across the country walking or cycling back to their native villages contrasts sharply with its May 15 order when it dismissed a petition asking that the Centre be ordered to provide food and water to migrants on the move.
The petitioners had then referred to the incident in Maharastra where 16 migrants sleeping on railway tracks were run over by a cargo train, to which the court had said, “How can anybody stop this when they sleep on railway tracks? There are people walking and not stopping. How can we stop it?”