A Bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan, which had taken suo moto cognisance of the plight of migrant workers, said that all migrant workers will have to be identified through registration.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked all states and Union Territories to identify and send all stranded migrant workers back to their hometowns within 15 days. Besides, it directed the states to withdraw all cases of lockdown violations registered against these workers, sections of whom were forced to walk hundreds of kilometres from their workplaces to reach their villages and towns, during the Covid-19 lockdown.
A Bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan, which had taken suo moto cognisance of the plight of migrant workers, said that all migrant workers will have to be identified through registration. Even the Railways has been asked to provide additional trains to states for transporting migrant workers within 24 hours of receiving a request.
“All the states/Union Territories shall take all necessary steps regarding identification of stranded migrant workers in their state who are willing to return to their native places and take steps for their return journey by train/bus which process may be completed within a period of 15 days,” it said.
States must also oversee the registration process of migrants and ensure that they board the train or bus at the earliest, the Supreme Court said, adding that governments must publicise complete information for all concerned.
The apex court also asked the governments to rehabilitate them by ensuring jobs based on their skills.
“The Central government may give details of all schemes which can be availed by migrant workers who have returned to their native places. Besides, all states and Union Territories shall also give details of all the existing schemes and benefits which can be taken by the migrant labourers including different schemes for providing employment,” the top court said.
The SC also directed the states to establish counselling centres, help desk at block and district level to provide all necessary information regarding their schemes and to extend a helping hand to migrant labourers to identify avenues of employment and benefits which can be availed by them.
The list of migrant labourers shall be maintained village wise, block wise and district wise to facilitate the administration to extend benefit of different schemes that may be applicable to them, the judges said while taking on record that 90% of migrants have already returned home.
The Bench asked all the states and the Centre to submit affidavits on schemes for migrants and their job creation by July 8, the next date of hearing.
Though it is the responsibility of the government to take care of migrant workers, the contribution and role played by NGOs “deserves all appreciation” for coming forward to help them by providing food, water and transport during the “difficult time,” the Supreme Court said in its 30-page order.
On Friday, the apex court had directed the state governments to provide free transport and adequate food to migrant workers who wanted to return home. It said the originating state will be responsible for providing food and water at all stations and bus stands, while the Railways will take care of their requirements during the journey.