Migrant Workers Crisis
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Migrant Workers: Bombay High Court seeks Maharashtra's detailed reply on steps being taken for workers willing to leave State

Shruti Mahajan

The Bombay High Court has sought a detailed reply from the State of Maharashtra on the procedure adopted for processing applications by migrant workers willing to leave the State and arrangements made for them in the interim till the time they board outgoing buses or trains. (Center of Indian Trade Unions vs Maharashtra)

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice KK Tated, on Friday, sought a reply from the State of Maharashtra on details and steps taken with respect to the migrant workers willing to leave the State amid lockdown.

The Court was hearing a PIL filed by the Center of Indian Trade Unions touching upon the issue of migrant workers applying to board buses and trains to travel back to their native place.

The Court noted that the concern raised in the petition is important and stated that such applicants are left in the dark about the status of their applications and are placed in unsatisfactory accommodations in the interim till the time their applications are processed.

The petitioner has claimed that the migrant workers, while they wait to secure a spot on trains or buses, are put in unhygienic and cramped places which can be a severe health hazard at a time of COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the Court was apprised by the Additional Solicitor General, Anil Singh, that the Supreme Court is already seized of the matter concerning the large scale displacement of migrant workers and has passed orders to this effect.

Acknowledging the same, the High Court said that while it is neither empowered to nor does it wish to pass orders contrary to the spirit of the Supreme Court, it will seek a report specific to the State owing to the peculiar local conditions.

The Court said that from media reports it appears that many migrant persons, while in anticipation to board buses and trains, have been sitting in congregations at railway stations or just outside of them in places like Mumbai as well as places around it.

These congregations, if allowed to be formed, would be contrary to the purpose for which the lockdown is imposed. Having said so, the Court asked the State to file a detailed status report on the subject.

The report shall, inter alia, indicate the whole procedure that a migrant worker is required to follow in order to be eligible for leaving this State, the likely time within which he could board a train/bus, the nature of shelter he is provided with during the waiting period as well as provisions made available to him for his sustenance.
Bombay High Court

The petitioner organization was represented by Senior Advocate Gayatri Singh.

The matter will be taken up next on June 2.

Read Order:

Center of Indian Trade Unions vs Maharashtra.pdf
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