NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday suggested that the Centre and states drop FIRs lodged against migrant workers for violations of lockdown guidelines and said having lost their means of livelihood, they were anxious to avail of whatever mode of transport, including walking and cycling, to reach home, reports Dhananjay Mahapatra.
The Supreme Court asked state governments to identify all stranded migrants who wanted to return home and send them to their native places by trains or buses in 15 days. It asked the Centre to provide Shramik Specials, in addition to 171 already requested, within 24 hours of requisitioning, as promised earlier by solicitor general Tushar Mehta.
It asked the Centre to provide Shramik Specials, as promised earlier by solicitor general Tushar Mehta. A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M R Shah said, “The process of transportation by rail and road has to be completed by all states and Union Territories (in 15 days) so that the next stage of attending to the needs of migrant labourers can be looked into, i.e. source of employment and providing food and ration for them.”
After lockdown was declared on March 25, huge crowds of migrant workers thronged bus terminals and railway stations at many places to go back to their hometowns.
Delhi and Mumbai police alone have booked thousands of migrant workers for violating social distancing norms in March and April. The bench said, “The migrant labourers who were earning their bread by working in different establishments, due to cessation of work, were forced to move to their hometown. The action of movement of these migrants after enforcement of lockdown measures was by force of circumstance.
“We are of the view that the state may consider withdrawing prosecution/complaints lodged against such migrants for the offences as referred to in Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, and other related offences lodged against migrant labourers during the period of lockdown.”
Gujarat saw 90% of its migrant workforce, 20.5 lakh of 23 lakh, returning home, the court was told. Maharashtra said 17 lakh migrant workers had left for their home states and another 37,000 were waiting to return. But it has requested only a single Shramik Special.
Karnataka said one lakh migrant workers still wanted to go home. Kerala arranged for transportation of 1.2 lakh migrant workers and another 1.5 lakh are awaiting their turn to return.