Drop cases against migrant workers, send them home in 15 days: SC to states

Passing verdict on a suo motu case related to the migrant labourer woes, a Supreme Court bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, S.K. Kaul and M.R. Shah directed the state governments to ensure that all stranded migrant workers are transported back to home states within 15 days. All cases of lockdown violations under the NDMA Act against the migrant labourers should be withdrawn, the court ordered, adding that Shramik trains should be scheduled and counselling sessions prepared. 

The top court, in the proceedings held through video conferencing, also said that the workers in return be registered by the authorities for extending benefits of welfare measures including employment opportunities in home states.

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), in its intervention plea filed through Deputy Registrar Sunil Arora, had given short term and long term measures for consideration of the apex court in order to alleviate the plight of the migrant workers and to ensure that their human rights are not violated.

Migrant labourers have borne the brunt of the lockdown, most of them stranded during the coronavirus lockdown and without any means of income. “In order to estimate the in-flow of migrant workers, states should collect the data of migrant workers at the point of departure in the originating state as well on arrival in the destination states. This will help states to effectively plan quarantine and relief measures for the migrant workers,” it said in one of the short term measures.

It sought a direction for implementation of the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 to ensure that migrant workers are provided with a journey allowance.

Menstrual hygiene products should be provided to migrant women and adolescent girls across the country, it said, adding Each state should be directed to ensure proper functioning of shelter homes especially for the accommodation of pregnant women, lactating mothers, children, and elderly persons.

One of the suggestions said that medical facilities and nutritious food should be made available in shelter homes and states should be directed to identify the industry in which the migrant labour is working.

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