The Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up the governments of Delhi and Maharashtra for not filing their response about the implementation of welfare measures for migrants amid the coronavirus pandemic, Live Law reported. The top court said this was a clear indication that the states were not interested in the matter.
On July 31, the Court had granted all states and Union Territories three weeks to bring on record details of migrants workers. The top court had also asked states to file affidavits containing details about the number of such workers living in the states, among other measures in the suo motu case.
A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah said that the apparent neglect displayed by Delhi and Maharashtra in complying with the July 31 order reflected “the lack of interest of the concerned states in dealing with the plight of the migrant workers”.
“When the Court passed specific order directing the States to the affidavits, the court’s intention was to see the working of the aforesaid acts,” the bench observed. “Non-filing of affidavit clearly indicates that the states are not interested in implementing the aforesaid enactments.”
It further noted that Delhi and Maharashtra had the highest number of such workers who bore the brunt of the lockdown restrictions to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
However, having considered the request of the counsels appearing for both governments, the top court allowed a further two-week period to Maharashtra, Delhi and any other state to file their response in the case.
During the July 31 hearing, the top court had specifically considered the affidavit of the Maharashtra government, which indicated that certain migrant workers were still waiting to return to their native place from the state at that time.
It further noted that despite the top court’s directions to transport all stranded workers back to their native places within 15 days as per the June 9 order, “there are still migrant workers stranded in different states, including state of Maharashtra”.
The lockdown imposed in March left hundreds of thousands of migrant workers stranded in the places of their work. Hundreds of thousands of them then began long journeys to home on foot, sometimes over distances of more than 1,000 km. Some died on the way due to illness, while others died in road accidents.