Congress' RS Surjewala moves SC over migrant crisis; seeks to be heard in suo motu case listed for tomorrow
Surjewala has requested in his plea that the Centre should be directed to come up with a nationwide plan to ease the pressure on India's migrant population
Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala on Wednesday approached the Supreme Court requesting to be heard in a suo motu case wherein the court will hear matters relating to the migrant crises due to the lockdown.
News18 reported that Surjewala has requested in his plea that the Centre should be directed to form a nationwide plan to ease the pressure on India's informal sector labourers. The Supreme Court has listed the matter for tomorrow.
Taking cognisance of the "unfortunate and miserable" plight of the migrant labourers stranded across the country due to the COVID-19 lockdown, the court had on Tuesday said they need "succour and help by the concerned governments" with regard to free food and shelter.
The adequate transport arrangement, food and shelters are to be provided immediately by the Centre and state governments free of costs, the top court said.
Although the Centre and states have taken measures to provide them relief, there have been inadequacies and certain lapses, said the Supreme Court which took the suo motu (on its own) cognisance of the situation.
Referring to various media reports showing the unfortunate and miserable conditions of migrant labourers walking on-foot and cycles from long distances, the top court issued notices to the Centre, states and Union Territories and sought their replies by 28 May.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MR Shah said, "This Court has also received several letters and representations from different sections of society highlighting the problem of migrant labourers. The crises of migrant labourers are even continuing today with large sections still stranded on roads, highways, railway stations and State borders."
It said, "We take suo motu cognizance 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 migrant labourers walking on-foot and cycles from long distances."
The top court added that in the present situation of lockdown in the entire country, this section of the society (migrant labourers) 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 said the migrant labourers have also been complaining of not being provided food and water by the administration at places where they were stranded or in the way that is highways from which they preceded on-foot, cycles or other modes of transport.
"We are of the view that effective concentrated efforts are required to redeem the situation. We, thus, issue notice to the Union of India and all States / Union Territories to submit their responses looking into the urgency of the matter," it added.
Various lawyers and activists have been criticising the judiciary for not fixing the accountability of the executive in helping the stranded labourers.
The apex court had on 15 May observed that it is impossible for courts to monitor or stop the movement of migrant workers across the country and it is for the government to take necessary action in this regard.
The Centre had told the top court that migrant workers across the country were being provided transportation by the government to their destinations but they have to wait for their turn rather than starting walking on foot amid coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic.
The top court had refused to entertain an application seeking a direction to the Centre to ask all District Magistrates to identify stranded migrant workers and provide shelter, food to them before ensuring their free transportation to native places in view of the recent incident at Aurangabad in which 16 workers were mowed down by a goods train.
With inputs from PTI
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