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In an order passed yesterday, the Karnataka High Court has directed the State Government to place on record its policy of enabling the migrant workers to leave the State of Karnataka and reach their respective home States.
The Court further stated that necessary arrangements for operation of Shramik Special Trains from different stations will also have to be made if migrant workers who are residing in places far from the capital city desire to go back to their respective States.
The order passed by a division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Sreeniwas Oka and Justice B V Nagarathna.
What is most important is that there has to be a rational policy of the State Government which will ensure that the rights of the migrant workers under sub-clause (d) of Clause (1) of Article 19 read with Article 14 of the Constitution are not infringed and that the migrant workers are made aware of the existence of such policy.
Karnataka High Court
The State government had informed that migrant workers were placed in various shelters at the moment. In this regard, the Court opined that if the migrants are made aware of the government policy, then that would ensure that they do not undertake adventure of walking from their respective places towards their home States.
"The consequences of migrants being compelled to walk up to their respective home States are well known and in fact, it cannot be disputed that many such migrants have lost their lives because of the accidents on the roads and on railway tracks. In some cases, as a result of undertaking a long walk and hunger, migrants have lost their lives."
This apart, the Court made it clear that the State policy shall cover the following aspects,
how few migrant workers will be selected from the entire group of migrants for the being transported to their respective states.
manner in which the State is going to arrange for operation of special trains for the benefit of migrants.
take all categories of migrant workers into account irrespective of the fact whether they are in their own shelters, in shelters provided by their employers/State or on the streets.
The counsel appearing for All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) submitted that migrants should be permitted to travel with dignity. Responding to this, the Court expressed hope that the State would accede to this suggestion keeping in mind the fundamental rights available to the migrants, like all other citizens.
Additionally, the Court pointed out that,
"If there are complaints received by the State that some contractors or employers are confining the migrant workers to their shelters and are not permitting them to go to their respective home States, the State Government will have to attend to such complaints and will have to ensure that the migrants are not harassed in this fashion."
The above directions were passed after AICCTU moved the Karnataka High Court challenging the state government's move to cancel all trains that were supposed to transport migrant workers to their respective hometowns.
The matter has been next posted on May 12.
[Read order here]