Migrants, Supreme Court
Migrants, Supreme Court
News

"You cannot say everything is fine in the State of Maharashtra", Supreme Court directs state to find out problems related to Migrant Crisis

The Court passed this direction after taking note of an application stating that a certain section of migrants are still waiting to be transported back to their home states.

Debayan Roy

The Supreme Court today directed the Maharashtra government to find out the problems faced as a result of the COVID-19 migrant crisis.

The Court passed this direction after taking note of an application stating that a certain section of migrants are still waiting to be transported back to their home states.

The Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul and MR Shah passed the direction while hearing the suo motu PIL on the migrant crisis effected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

 Justice SK Kaul, Justice Bhushan and MR Shah
Justice SK Kaul, Justice Bhushan and MR Shah

At the start of today's hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Maharashtra, made submissions on the National Testing Policy and a COVID-19 containment plan. He said that he would serve copies of the state's affidavit filed in this regard to the opposing counsel.

Mehta also clarified that the state has filed a response to the application filed by Centre for Public Interest Litigation.

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi suggested that the Centre come up with a constructive scheme for insurance for migrants. He said,

"We also need a work plan and centralised system to rehabilitate the migrants. Registration of migrants need to be insisted upon."

In response, SG Mehta said that the reply filed by the state would address these concerns.

When the Bench pointed out that there were still migrant workers in Maharashtra who wanted to be transported, SG Mehta said,

"The migrants who wanted to leave earlier have now decided to stay back as the state opened up employment opportunities. From May 1, around 3,50,000 workers came back to work again."

Justice Bhushan at this point noted,

"When you are the state, it is your responsibility to find out which group of migrants are getting food etc. Your affidavit says food is being provided to migrant workers."

Observing that the Centre was treating this matter as adversarial litigation, Justice Shah asked Mehta to file a proper affidavit.

Justice Bhushan then said,

"You cannot say everything is fine in the state of Maharashtra and that you are providing food and transport."

Justice Ashok Bhushan

In response, SG Mehta said,

"Whoever wanted to shift has been shifted. Those who were stranded and went back are not getting jobs as per their skills."

The Bench then proceeded to direct the Maharashtra government to find out the problems arising out of the migrant crisis. The state is required to file an additional affidavit clarifying its position on the stranded migrants.

The matter will be next heard on Friday, July 10.

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