Give Ration, Community Kitchens, Transport to Migrant Workers: SC

“How will the migrants survive with no money or work?” SC asked state governments of Delhi, UP and Haryana 

2 min read
Supreme Court of India. 

The Supreme Court on Thursday, May 13, directed the governments of Delhi, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh to provide dry ration, set up community kitchens, and ensure adequate transport facilities for migrant workers.

The states were also directed to submit detailed replies on the means and measures by which they shall “ameliorate miseries of stranded migrant labourers”. In Thursday’s proceedings, the court was responding to a request by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to adjourn the matter.

“How will the migrants survive with no money or work? Some sustenance must be provided, for the time being. You have to consider the harsh realities.”
Justice Ashok Bhushan, Supreme Court

Directions of the Supreme Court

The Bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice MR Shah, while issuing notice to the state governments, gave the following directions:

  • Dry ration must be provided to migrant workers in the National Capital Region under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Scheme, or any other scheme by the Union of India, NCT of Delhi, state of UP and state of Haryana, utilising the Public Distribution System prevalent in each state with effect from May, 2021.
  • While providing dry ration, the authorities of the states shall not insist on an identity card of those migrant labourers who do not possess (the same) for the time being. On self-declaration made by the stranded migrant labourers, dry ration must be given to them.
  • NCT of Delhi, state of UP and state of Haryana (for the districts included in the NCR) shall ensure that adequate transport facility is provided to stranded migrant labourers (in the National Capital Region) who want to return home.
  • The district administrations, in coordination with the police, may identify such stranded migrant labourers and facilitate their transport either by road or train.
  • Central government should also consider issuing necessary instructions to Ministry of Railways to take necessary and adequate measures to cater for the needs of migrant labourers.
  • NCT of Delhi, UP, and Haryana (for the districts included in the NCR) must open community kitchens at well-advertised places (in the National Capital Region) for stranded migrant labourers so that they and their family members, who are stranded, can get two meals a day.

The Petition

The order was passed based on an urgent application – by activists Harsh Mander, Anjali Bhardwaj and Jagdeep Chhokar – seeking directions to ensure that migrant workers are not deprived of ration and food security and are able to travel back to their homes at nominal cost.

The application was filed in the suo motu case initiated by the top court last year to deal with migrant labourer crisis during the national lockdown.

The applicants contended that even though states had been imposing decentralised COVID-19 curfews and lockdowns more cautiously this year, “they offered little welfare support to the working class and migrants whose livelihoods are at sea once again”.

“This has triggered the second exodus of migrant workers who are crowding train and bus terminals in urban centres in a bid to get back home," the application stated.

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