Four days after Supreme Court gave the Centre and state governments 15 days' time to arrange transportation for migrant labourers, the apex court on Tuesday, 9 June, directed the Centre and states to ensure migrants wanting to return home can do so within the next 15 days.
The order comes as the nation witnesses gradual easing of restrictions under ‘Unlock 1.0’ amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Supreme Court said in its order that Railways must provide Shramik Special trains within 24 hours if states ask, adding that Railways should also provide all schemes to migrant workers and publicise them.
The top court has also asked authorities to consider withdrawal of complaints against migrant workers for alleged violation of lockdown norms. The states, UTs have been asked to formulate a scheme for providing employment to migrant workers.
According to The Bar and Bench, the other directions passed by the SC are: the states need to establish help desks which will help migrant labourers avail employment opportunities, besides setting up counselling centres help migrant workers to return to the cities to find a living.
On 26 May, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court took cognisance of a suo motu petition questioning problems in handling the migrant crisis following the lockdown. Two days later, SC directed that migrant workers returning home should not be charged train and bus fares. The SC also ordered that the migrant workers be provided free food.
On 3 June, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the SC that till 3 June, over 4,200 Shramik Special trains had been deployed to transport migrant workers. He said that over one crore migrant workers have already been transported to their hometowns using trains or buses.