A Supreme Court judge on Thursday said the coronavirus-induced nationwide lockdown has created psychological problems and violence within the family, reported PTI. Justice NV Ramana added that the “reverse migration” during the lockdown will lead to an increase in poverty and discrimination.
“This pandemic has presented before us multiple emerging issues,” Justice Ramana said at a webinar organised by the National Legal Services Authority. “The most predominant one is that of reverse migration. Massive reverse migration will invariably lead to increase in poverty, inequity and discrimination.”
Justice Ramana said the situation was still not under control even after three months. “Pursuant to the lockdown, thousands of people have lost their lives and livelihood, large scale migration has taken place,” he added.
His comments came at a time when millions of migrant workers in India were left jobless by the coronavirus-induced lockdown imposed on March 25. Many migrants were forced to make gruelling and dangerous trips back to their hometowns as public transport was not running during the lockdown. The Centre began arranging special trains only on May 1, while bus services started from April 20 to take migrants home.
At least 170 workers have been killed in accidents on the roads or train tracks. Many others died from the exhaustion of walking in the scorching heat. Nearly 80 migrant workers died of starvation or heat sickness between May 9 and May 27 while travelling on special trains, according to the data from the Railway Protection Force. There have been several reports of migrant workers not being given food and water on long train journeys in the searing heat. Workers complained about the squalid conditions of travel and inordinate delays in train schedules. Many alleged that they were not given anything to eat or drink during the journey, while others claimed they were fed rotten food.
Justice Ramana also said that there has been a rise in domestic violence and child abuse during the nationwide lockdown. “Women have been burdened with more work; children have been unable to go to schools,” he said. “Adding to that, working of home has also had its impact on the family life. This pandemic has also affected rights of women, children and senior citizen. This calls for a persistent and target orientation action plan, which we all have to work out together.” He said the future will be challenging. “Let’s stay committed.”
The judge, who is second in seniority after Chief Justice SA Bobde, said now is the time for legal services authorities to reach out to victims of domestic violence and child abuse. “Acknowledging the urgency of the situation we have established One Stop Centres,” he added. “Persistent efforts have been taken to provide legal assistance, through teleservices of female panel lawyers in every district. In other matters, petitions have been filed under the Domestic Violence Act.”
The National Commission for Women had in April expressed concern over the increase in cases of domestic violence. During the lockdown period between March 24 and April 1, the commission recorded 69 cases of domestic violence, 77 cases under the right to live with dignity, and another 15 cases of harassment of married women at home. Apart from this, the women’s body received two cases of dowry deaths and 13 cases of rape or attempt to rape.
Usually, a woman can register complaints with the National Commission for Women through various channels. This includes physical visits to the office in different states, postal communication, phone calls, online complaint registration, emails and through social media. However, under the lockdown, the mediums to file a complaint have been curtailed and restricted to just three forms: social media, email and online registration.