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The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday issued notice in a PIL seeking enforcement of the fundamental rights of migrant workers who have been walking across the state of Uttar Pradesh to reach their hometowns.
The High Court has also asked the state government to come up with a policy and norms for providing medical facilities and treatment to migrant workers and their families, and to stop the further spread of COVID-19 in rural parts of the state.
A Bench of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Ramesh Sinha further directed,
The petitioner, represented by Advocates Gaurav Tripathi and Ritesh Srivastava, stated that neither the Central government nor the respective state governments have made adequate arrangements for the movement of migrants labourers and their families.
Highlighting the apathy faced by the migrants, the petitioners stated that no food was available even at railway stations, and that those travelling in the Shramik Special trains were starved.
"The non-availability of food and water has caused violence at Kanpur and Unnao", stated the petitioners.
The Court also noted that the unregulated movement of migrants has accelerated the chances of spread of COVID-19 in all major towns and rural areas.
Alleging that the attitude of the state governments was contrary to the spirit of the federal structure, the petitioners apprised the Court that it was necessary for the state of Uttar Pradesh to strengthen its edifice for local employment.
Stating that the migrant workers needed the indulgence of the High Court now more than ever, the petition avers that the state has failed to discharge its duty to provide food and transportation to the migrant workers. This has resulted in infringement of their Fundamental Rights, the plea states.
The PIL has placed reliance on orders passed by High Courts of Gujarat, Karnataka and Madras, which sought replies from their respective state governments on their plan of action to deal with this crisis.
As far as the issues of transportation and food were concerned, the High Court clarified that it was not inclined to seek any explanation from the state government, since the Supreme Court had already taken suo motu cognizance of the same.
The matter will be next heard on June 1.
Read the order here.