SC directs States: No Travel Fare for Migrants, Provide Food For Stranded Migrants

SC direction has come after two months of silence and after repeated criticisms of SC inaction on the migrant's issue from several former judges, and senior advocates.

SC has asked states to bear the cost of travel so that migrants do not have to pay for train, bus fare.
Supreme Court on Thursday directed states to bear the cost of bus and train fares being charged from the migrants who are heading home due to loss of employment during the nationwide lockdown.

Taking note of the miseries of stranded migrants across the country, the Supreme Court on Thursday passed a slew of significant directions.

They are :

  1. No fare either by train or bus shall be charged for migrant workers. Railway fare to be shared by states.
  2. Migrant workers shall be provided food by the concerned state and UT at places to be publicized & notified for the period they are waiting for their their turn to board a train or a bus.
  3. At the commencement of train journey, originating states should provide meal & water.
  4. During the journey, railways should provide meal and water to migrant workers . Food and water to also be provided in buses.
  5. State shall oversee the registration of migrants & states to ensure that after registration, they are made to board transport as early as possible.
  6. Those migrant workers found walking on the roads, immediately be taken to shelters & provided food and all facilities.

The bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, S K Kaul and M R Shah also directed the Centre to place on record information regarding number of migrants awaiting , transportation to native places, plan for transportation and mechanism of registration and other requisite details.

“As and when the state governments put in a request for trains, railways has to provide them”, the bench further ordered.

The next hearing on the matter will be on June 5.

During the hearing, the bench posed several questions to the Central Government on the issues concerning migrant workers, who have been stranded during the lockdown.

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.

We take suo motu cognisance of problems and miseries of migrant labourers who had been stranded in different parts of the country. The newspaper reports and the media reports have been continuously showing the unfortunate and miserable conditions of the migrant labourers walking on-foot and cycles from long distances”, the bench said.

Shortly before that, a group of 20 leading advocates had submitted a representation before the CJI, complaining that the Court’s passivity in the issue resulted in the executive going unchecked amidst a grave humanitarian crisis. They said that the Court was showing “excessive deference” to the executive, by showing unwillingness to question the Central Government’s “patently false” claims.

Several former judges, and senior advocates, including Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, have been vocal in criticizing the top court for its inaction on the migrants issue.





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April 2024



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