SC asks Maharashtra to make sure all migrant workers return home

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court today asked the State of Maharashtra to take appropriate steps to ensure that stranded migrant workers return to their native places at an early date.

A three-judge Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Subhash Reddy and MR Shah took cognisance of the plight of migrant labourers amid the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown.

During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, submitted that subsequent to the apex court’s orders, a substantial number of migrant workers have returned to their hometowns. Whenever, request for running of Shramik Trains was received by the Railways, the trains were immediately provided for.

He asked the Court to close the issue of transportation of stranded migrant workers since most of them have returned to their homes, and in case there are still any grievances, aggrieved people can approach the jurisdictional High Court for appropriate relief.

In response to Mehta’s submission, the Court responded by saying that it has already made clear that those matters of which High Court has taken cognizance, they will be decided by respective High Courts. The High Courts being constitutional Courts are well within their jurisdiction to take cognizance of violation of fundamental rights of migrant workers.

The Court noted that even after directions given to all States/UTs to transport all stranded workers by trains or other modes within fifteen days, there are still migrant workers stranded in different States including the State of Maharashtra.

According to the affidavit filed by the State of Maharashtra, some migrant labourers are still awaiting to return to their native places from the State of Maharashtra. While a substantial number of migrant labourers are reported to have already reached their native places. The online registration process for Shramik Trains stands resumed.

The Court has therefore asked the State of Maharashtra to take appropriate steps to ensure that stranded migrant workers return to their native places, at an early date.

Regarding registration of the migrants, the Court noted that it had previously directed that registrations be done under enactments including the Interstate Migrant workmen (Regulations of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979, the Construction Workers(Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 and the Unorganized Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008. However while several States made rules under the above enactments, all necessary details regarding the steps taken by concerned States have not been placed on record.

The Court has therefore directed all States and UTs to file affidavits responding to steps taken by them regarding the implementation of these three enactments, within a period of three months.

The matter will now be heard after four weeks.

Read the order here;

11706-2020-35-23-23191-Order-31-Jul-2020

– India Legal Bureau

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