Covid-19: 'Not an expert body' on lodging, feeding migrant workers, says SC

Food being offered to migrant workers during Covid-19 lockdown | PTI
The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it is not an "expert" body to deal with the health and management issues of migrant workers living under a 21-day nationwide lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus and would ask the government to set up a helpline.

A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and justices S K Kaul and Deepak Gupta, through video conferencing, was hearing the plea filed by two civil rights activists seeking enforcement of fundamental right to life for migrant workers and payment of wages to them as they have been left without work or food following the lockdown.

The bench, which had earlier issued notice to the Centre on the PIL, took note of the response of the government that it was monitoring the situation and has set up helpline number for helping the poor workers.

"We do not plan to supplant the wisdom of the government with our wisdom. We are not experts in health or management and will ask the government to create a helpline for complaints," the bench said while fixing the PIL for further hearing on April 13.

The bench also said it cannot take a "better policy decision" at this stage and moreover, it also does not want to interfere with the policy decisions for next ten-fifteen days.

At the outset, lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for activists Mander and Anjali Bhardwaj, said that more than 400,000 migrant workers were living in shelter homes and this made mockery of distancing which is necessary to fight COVID-19 pandemic.

"If they are kept in shelter homes and then even if one person tests positive for coronavirus, they all get it. They should be allowed to go back to their own homes. Families need money for survival because they are dependant on the wages," Bhushan said.


CJI: f they are being provided meals then why do they need money for meals?

Bhushan : They don't just need food in the shelter homes.. we need to give them money to send to their families back home.@pbhushan1

— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) April 7, 2020
He said that more than 40 per cent such workers did not try to migrate and are living in their own homes in the cities and they do not have money to buy food.

The bench said that it has been told that such workers are being provided with meals in shelter homes and asked as to why they needed money for buying food.

They are not all in shelter homes. They do not just need food in the shelter homes and they needed money to send to their families back home, the lawyer said.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre said that the government was "on top of the situation" and it was looking into complaints recieved. The call centre has been set up. The Home Ministry and the Minister have been monitoring the helpline, the law officer said.

SC to hear PIL on April 13 seeking minimum wages for migrant workers amid lockdown

The Supreme Court on Tuesday slated for April 13 hearing on a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking immediate direction for the payment of basic minimum wages to migrant workers, adversely affected by the COVID-19 lockdown.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde, during the hearing through videoconferencing, said that it received the affidavit filed by the Central government this morning and slated the hearing for April 13.

The PIL sought an immediate direction to the Central government for payment of basic minimum wages to migrant workers and said that the lockdown, imposed in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the country, discriminated among the citizens.

No fresh movement of migrant workers in Delhi amid lockdown: AAP govt

No fresh movement of migrant workers has been reported in the national capital amid the lockdown imposed to arrest the spread of coroanvirus, the Delhi government said on Monday.

In an official statement, Chief Secretary Vijay Dev said the migrant workers, who were initially heading to their native states, have been focused as a target group with special facilities being provided to them.

He also directed to take pro-active measures to enforce the lockdown. The AAP-led Delhi government has set up 111 shelter homes specifically for migrant workers rendered homeless due to the nationwide lockdown.

"Till Sunday, 4,788 migrants have been housed in these shelter homes. The relief camps have the capacity to accommodate 40,000 persons," the statement said.

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