Supreme Court hearing on migrant crisis: No bus, train fare for workers; apex court orders state govts to arrange for their shelter, food
The Supreme Court further directed that the originating state should provide food and water to the migrant workers and thereafter the Railways should provide the same during travel.
The Supreme Court on Thursday said that no fares for trains or buses should be charged from migrant workers returning home due to the coronavirus lockdown. The court also ordered that migrant workers seen walking on roads should be taken to shelter homes and should be "provided food and all facilities".
The court's order came after strongly-worded arguments between Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and lawyers appearing for migrant workers' collectives.
A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul and MR Shah said that the Railways should pay for a part of the fare but no fare should be taken from migrant workers.
The court further directed that the originating state should provide food and water and thereafter the Railways should provide the same during travel. It further said that thereafter, state shall give transport, food and meals from stations to their villages.
Also, the judges asked state governments to speed up the registration process of migrant workers and build help desks near places where they are stranded, and asked them to ensure that information regarding this process is publicised.
Bar and Bench quoted the Supreme Court bench as saying in the order, "There are several lapses and difficulties which are being noticed in process of registration, transportation, and providing food and shelter to migrant. Even after registration workers wait from weeks to months to board buses or trains. Large number can be seen on foot."
The next hearing of the case is on 5 June. By then, state governments have been asked to place information before the court on the number of migrant workers awaiting transportation, the plan for transporting them, the registration mechanism and other requisite details.
On 26 May, the court had taken suo motu cognisance of the migrant crisis and issued notices to the Centre and all state governments.
The Supreme Court bench had observed in their notice to the governments of India and all states and UTs that despite several steps taken to ensure the well-being of migrant, lapses on the administrations' part cannot be ruled out.
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