Migrants should not be charged travel fare: SC to Centre

Migrants should not be charged travel fare: SC to Centre

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Centre and state governments not to charge travel fares from migrant workers travelling to their native places. “No fare, either by train or bus, shall be charged for migrant workers. Railway fare to be shared by states,” the Supreme Court said on Thursday. Further, the apex court also issued a slew of interim directions to mitigate the miseries of the migrant workers on the roads. 

Here are the other interim measures directed by the Supreme Court. 

1. Migrant workers to be provided food by the state and UT at places. The measure is to be publicised and notified for the period they are waiting for their turn to board a train or a bus.

2. During train journey, originating states will provide meal and water.

3. Railways to provide meal and water to migrant workers.  

4. Food and water to also be provided in buses.

5. States shall oversee the registration of migrants and have to ensure that after registration, they are made to board transport as early as possible.

6. Complete information should be publicised by both the Centre and state governments to all concerned. 

7. Those migrant workers found walking on roads should be immediately be taken to shelters and provided food and all facilities.

8. As and when the state governments put in a request for trains, the Railways has to provide them.

The apex court also ordered that the replies should be filed before the next hearing on June 5. The court asked some searching questions from the Centre on the plight of migrant workers ranging from as to how long they will have to wait before going to their native places to who will pay for their travel and provide them food and shelter. It also 

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, S.K. Kaul and M R Shah asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, about the confusion over the payment of travel fare of stranded migrant workers and said that they should not made to pay for their journey back home.

“What is the normal time? If a migrant is identified, there must be some certainty that he will be shifted out within one week or ten days at most? What is that time? There had been instances where one state sends migrants but at the border another State says we are not accepting the migrants. We need a policy on this,” the bench told Mehta.

The bench, questioning him over the travel-fare for the migrants, said: In our country, the middlemen will always be there. But we don’t want middlemen to interfere when it comes to payment of fares. There has to be a clear policy as to who will pay for their travel.”

At the outset, Mehta submitted a preliminary report and said that between May 1-27 total of 3,700 special trains have been run for carrying migrant labourers and many have been shifted by road to bordering states. He said 91 lakh migrant workers have been shifted to their native places till Wednesday.

Millions of migrant workers were stranded across the country without food, shelter and transportation after the nationwide lockdown was announced from March 25 at 4-hour notice to combat the spread of global pandemic, Covid-19. They then started walking hundreds of miles to reach their homes, leading to miserable plight.

On May 26, the top court had taken cognizance of the miseries of migrant workers and said there have been inadequacies and certain lapses by the Centre and the states, and asked them to provide transport, food and shelter immediately free of cost. 

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