SC Notice to Centre After PIL Seeks Immediate Wages to Migrants

The court has sought Centre’s response by 7 April.

2 min read
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Supreme Court on Friday, 3 April, issued a notice to the Centre on hearing a petition seeking immediate direction for payment of basic minimum wages to migrant workers who have been affected by the 21-day lockdown to curtail the spread of coronavirus.

“A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Deepak Gupta had issued notice to Centre and posted the matter for further hearing on 7 April,” advocate Prashant Bhushan, who appeared for petitioners Harsh Mander and Anjali Bhardwaj through video conferencing, said.

The plea said the fundamental Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution needs to be enforced for migrant workers who have been severely affected by the lockdown ordered by the government on 24 March.

“The order for which no prior intimation was given, created a panic across the country and led to the instantaneous loss of jobs and wages of millions of migrant workers employed in establishments across India or self-employed as street vendors, rickshaw pullers, domestic house helps, petty job workers, etc. This led to the large scale exodus of these migrant workers to their home towns,” the plea said.

It added that if in violation of the necessary statutes, the government has not maintained records of such workers, it would be necessary to immediately put in place a mechanism for workers to self-identify and self-attest based on which the government can release wages.

The petition sought direction to the central and state governments to jointly and severally ensure payment of wages/minimum wages to all the migrant workers within a week, whether employed by other establishments, contractors or self-employed, as they are unable to work and earn wages, during the period of the lockdown.

It also sought direction to them to immediately activate National and State Advisory Committees of experts in the field of disaster management and public health and prepare national and state disaster management plans for dealing with the COVID-19 epidemic, taking into account all relevant aspects, mitigation measure, their possible costs and consequences as required under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

(With PTI inputs)

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