Gujarat High Court
Gujarat High Court
Litigation News

State must instil confidence in public: Gujarat HC takes note of plight of migrant workers, those unable to access non-COVID19 medical care

"We would not like to interfere with the day­to­day functioning of the State Government in this regard, but, at the same time, we should ensure that that the situation does not go from very bad to worst", the Court said.

Aishwarya Iyer

Taking suo motu cognizance of the plight of the migrant workers and the public at large in the state, the Gujarat High Court on Monday has asked the Government to respond on concerns raised regarding the difficulties faced by people in accessing food and medical care amid the COVID-19 lockdown.

A Bench of Justices JB Pardiwala and Ilesh J Vora opined that while dealing with such a delicate situation, the government must instill confidence in the minds of the people that they would be taken care of.

"The State Government should keep in mind that they are at present dealing with the most downtrodden, under privileged and weaker sections of the society. They are all afraid. They are not afraid of COVID19, but they are afraid that they would die due to starvation."
Gujarat High Court

As such, the Court remarked that "it becomes the paramount duty of the State Government to assure and repose confidence in the downtrodden class of people that they will be taken care of in the best possible manner. It is hightime for the State Government to deal with this delicate situation very carefully and instill confidence in the minds of the people at large that they will be taken care of."

It added that,

"We would not like to interfere with the day­to­day functioning of the State Government in this regard, but, at the same time, we should ensure that that the situation does not go from very bad to worst. In such circumstances, the judiciary will have to intervene."

Gujarat High Court

The State has now been asked to immediately discuss the issues raised and revert with some concrete plans. Advocate General Kamal Trivedi and Government Pleader Manisha Lavkumar Shah appeared for the State.

Taking note of news reports detailing the hardships faced by the migrant workers, the State Authorities have been asked to come up with modalities to ease the process of transporting these workers back to their hometown, so that they do not have to wait for hours before boarding a trains or bus.

Inter alia, the Bench has also enquired as to how many shelters homes for stranded migrant workers were functional across Gujarat, while raising concern over the present sufferings faced by such migrants.

"Their condition is pathetic. As on date, they are living in the most inhumane and horrendous conditions."

Gujarat High Court

The High Court further noted that donations of food for poor people who used to receive food from NGOs and other charitable institutions had come to a grinding halt.

"It has been reported that more than two hundred people living on the footpaths near the Ellisbridge have not had a morsel of food for the past four days."

Gujarat High Court

Highlighting that it was the paramount duty of the State Authorities to ensure that its citizen do not go hungry, the Court went on to add that although the State Government was doing its best, yet there existed no coordination amongst various departments of the State Government.

Moreover, on account of complete lockdown, people at large found it extremely difficult to avail necessary medical services, opined the Bench.

In this regard, the Court took serious note of a news report informing that people with ailments other that COVID, who required immediate medical treatment were unable to access the hospital or medical facilities. The Court said,

"This is something very serious and needs immediate attention. If a person has any other ailment and is in need of medical treatment, then he cannot be asked to remain himself locked in his house."
Gujarat High Court

Adding that necessary arrangements should be made in such circumstances to ensure that the ailing person is able to reach to a particular hospital and seek immediate medical treatment, the Court said, "some modalities in this regard needs to be worked out at the earliest. Otherwise, some case may prove to be fatal and that would be the most unfortunate thing that can happen with the family".

While conveying a message to the people at large that they should not lose heart, the Bench added,

"Everything that Has a Beginning Has an End. Novel COVID19 is not immortal. We all need to stand united and fight. People with resources should stand besides the frail, aged, needy and poor. Trust in the Almighty."
Gujarat High Court

The matter has been listed to be taken up next on May 14.

Read the Order here:

SUO MOTU v State of Gujarat and 2 others.pdf
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