[Migrant Crisis] Supreme Court hears Suo Motu case - Day 2: LIVE UPDATES
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[Migrant Crisis] Supreme Court hears Suo Motu case - Day 2: LIVE UPDATES

A 3 judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul and MR Shah is hearing the suo motu case taken up over the migrant crisis that followed in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Bar & Bench

A 3 judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justices Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul and MR Shah begins hearing the suo motu case taken up over the migrant crisis arising in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta tells Court that an affidavit was filed yesterday. He adds that Indian railways till June 3, has offered 4,228, shramik special trains

SG Mehta: Approximately 1 crore migrant workers have reached destination. In UP which was receiving state, got 1695 trains. Maximum trains ended in UP and Bihar

Justice Bhushan: This is all okay. how many workers are still stranded? What is your estimate?

SG Mehta: (Centre) continuously in touch with states. They can only give exact figures. We have sought information from them. We require a total of 171 trains now. States for administrative reasons wants trains on specific dates. Karnataka wants on June 6, Kerala wants on June 8, etc.

SG Tushar Mehta
SG Tushar Mehta

Justice Bhushan: Maharashtra has not given any date? They demanded only one train.

SG Mehta: many trains are returning empty. This may be because migrants are joining industries again.

SG Mehta: From Maharashtra we have already used over 800 trains. Director of the Disaster Management of Maharashtra wanted only 1 more train.

Justice Bhushan: We can grant 15 days time so that all states get back with their demands for trains. This has been going on for very long now

Justice Bhushan: There is a need to register all migrants specifically state and district wise. We need to know what kind of schemes are prevalent in the state?

SG Mehta: Whenever any state places a request with us, we will provide the trains within 24 hours

Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves: The registration system is not working. Migrants are getting frustrated and thus the migrants who want to go back is half than the actual numbers.

We have filed a SWAN (Stranded Workers Action Network) report which shows how a non-simplified system is posing a hurdle for migrants.

Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves
Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves

Justice Bhushan: What is the solution?

Gonsalves: In Tamil Nadu, contractor is registering the migrants with forms asking 28 questions to migrants. But the questions are in English. This can be altered.

Senior Advocate Indira Jaising: The pre booking registration is creating problems.

Senior Advocate Indira Jaising
Senior Advocate Indira Jaising

Jaising: They should be treated like normal travellers. The trains need to be announced a week before so that migrants can make use of it.

SG Mehta: I emphatically reiterate that intervenors should not be allowed to address the court especially those who did not contribute in COVID management.

Jaising: I take strong objection to this. We have contributed perhaps more than anyone else.

Advocate Maninder Singh for Assam & Gujarat: Centre has done sufficiently. No further detailed examination is required. Situation has improved to 100%.

For Gujarat, out of 23 lacs, 2.5 lacs remain as they want to work. Over 20 lacs have already been transported.

Counsel for the State of Maharashtra, Rahul Chitnis: There are only 38,000 migrants remaining and we need only one more. Normal trains are also starting now.

Advocate for Assam cannot be seen on screen.

SG Mehta: Advocate Maninder Singh cannot be seen on screen. Can the intervenors (only Jaising on screen for migrant workers) please leave the screen and make space for him?

Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain appearing for NCT of Delhi: We have deposited 9 crores with Railways for fares of migrant workers to travel to their home town. This payment has been made in advance. We have complied with your orders.

ASG Jain (for Delhi): Regarding food, not only for migrants staying here but also for on train, we are providing lodging and food.

Now 2 lakh workers remain to be transported. There were 6 lakh registration, some registrations were multiple and some have started working as construction started.

Advocate P Narasimha for UP: Never charged for travel and food for migrants. Those who came from outside need to sent back. For this around 104 special trains were provided and over 1 lakh migrants were transported by back. Now only 3,206 migrant workers remain to be transported

Narasimha (for UP): We received 21,69,000 workers from across India. .. over 5 lakh migrant workers were brought inside the state from Delhi itself.

Justice Bhushan: But how many from UP are still stranded across the country?

Narasimha: We are getting feedback from some migrants that they want to continue working in other states. For others, we are taking care of their health till the last mile. Now we have reached equilibrium

Justice Bhushan: Now every village should know how many migrants have come from where so that employment regeneration schemes are also started.

Advocate Ranjeet Kumar appears for the State of Bihar: We have recieved 28 lakh people from all across India. We have 54 centres in 13 cities and 9 states and we have no information from any of these places about how many are still stranded.

Counsel for Bihar: We are taking steps for providing employment. 10 lakh people’s skill mapping has been done by the government and soon the employment will be taken care of.

Counsel for West Bengal: We are a receiving state. We have another 6 lakh migrant workers to reach us

Justice MR Shah: You have 6 lakh people to come back and you need only 17 trains?

Justice Bhushan: You have to facilitate these people to come back.

Counsel for Tamil Nadu, AAG Jayanti Muth Raj: We need some time to file an affidavit about the remaining migrants who need to be transported back

Justice Bhushan: We can give you 15 days time to complete the entire process

Counsel for Madhya Pradesh, Aman Lekhi: Only 25,000 migrants are yet to come back.

Counsel for Rajasthan: We have recieved over 13 lakh migrants who have come back. We are providing food and healthcare facilities. There are very few who want to leave Rajasthan at the moment

Counsel for Rajasthan: We have spent 25.12 crores to get back 13 lakh migrant workers back into the state.

Counsel for Kerala, G Prakash: There were 4 lakh 34 thousand migrants. Over 1 lakh we have transported. Balance is 2.81 lakh. Out of this, 1,61 wanted to stay in Kerala.

Counsel for Karnataka: We have facilitated the travel of about 3,67,000 migrants from the state. We have borne the fare of all where receiving state did not pay for it. People who want to travel have reduced. One lakh people had registered for yesterday but 100 turned up

Counsel for Odisha: We are taking extra care and precautions because a lot of migrants are travelling back to their home states via our states.

Kapil Sibal begins making submissions: We must know what is the minimum standard for food, water etc. Was it followed by state govt and monitored?

Justice Bhushan: We will direct the Centre

Sibal: Registration process needs to be decentralized so that shramiks can approach police stations and can manually register. Many shramiks don't know how to go about registration.

Jaising: Primary issue is demand is being unreported. The registration process is complex and it is in English. The questions being asked in such forms is problematic. For this announce train number and name one week in advance. Let registration be from police stations

Jaising: Questions should involve only where does a worker want to travel and the Aadhaar card number. Websites should announce which trains are going where at what time these announcements should also be made on TV, AIR and all newspapers

Jaising: These workers should be paid a 10,000 per month. There needs to be multi-lingual helpline centers where people can call up and inform them what to be done. 1 kg of Dal needs to be given each of the families going through this.

Jaising: Many FIRs have been slapped with FIRs for violating lockdown and walking for searching transport for homes. Let's not add insult to injury and humiliate them more. This is a biological disaster and these people are called internally displaced people.

SG Mehta: NHRC has issued a notice to railways. Being a constitutional authority, they should wait for a reply

Advocate Patil for NHRC: We have a different point to make. We have invoked provision under Human Rights Act. We have given 10 short term measures and 10 long term measures

Justice Bhushan: We allow your intervention (to NHRC)

SG Mehta: We are not opposing this NHRC Intervention

Justice Bhushan: We will now hear Senior Advocate AM Singhvi as an officer of the court

Senior Advocate AM Singhvi: I will make three points in three minutes. There is a real problem now which is 1 month late .. those who have been lucky enough to reach hometown back, they are being preventing entry.

SG Mehta: It used to happen initially as they geared spread of COVID

Singhvi: Manipur had one case and now it has 132 case. They say it was because of migrants. It was primarily because the way migrants were kept for 5 to 8 days after they reached the states. These illness-free migrants are being subjected to these infections.

Advocate Alakh Srivastava: There are births taking place in shramik trains. Medical teams should be deployed with the trains and proper medical checks need to take place too SG: You have kept us busy through the vacation (referring to the pleas filed by Srivastava in migrant crisis)

Advocate Jaideep Gupta argues for MP Mahua Moitra: Earlier, her petition was dismissed on the pretext that this problem was not even there. Asking for a recall of that order and allow her to make submissions

Justice Bhushan: She is a respectable member of Parliament, If we allow this, it will become a chaotic situation. We have assistance of union, states, counsel. If you want to say something, say something and give suggestions.

Advocate Gupta: Registration process should be offline

Vishwanathan: Fares must be paid by the Centre for migrants irrespective of receiving or originating states paying the same. The Air turbine fuel cess also needs to be reduced so that the air fare comes down for the people willing to go back.

Senior Advocate KV Vishwanathan: There needs to be a positive obligation on the states to register migrants as migrants are usually illiterate and are wandering here and there. Plus registration needs to be decentralized

SG Mehta: Regarding decentralization of the registration process, if we make it open for all, then people will fight for trains in the station. A system has worked well to transport 90% of migrants and only 10% is remaining. Let the same system continue

SG Mehta: Regarding home quarantine, it is needed for the infections to not spread. So please do not touch quarantine subject as it has been devised in consultation with medical experts

SG Mehta: Let the present system of migration continue with only 10% remaining. We have crossed the threshold of the real problem we were facing. Clients of Mr Vishwanathan is always welcome (NLSIU Alumni) to help and they have done too.

The three judge bench reserves orders for Tuesday. (June 9). Bench rises

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