The Supreme Court has directed that no fare for travel either by train or bus be charged from the migrant workers stranded across the country and they be provided food and water.
The apex court, which passed interim directions, said all migrant workers who are stranded at various places shall be provided food by the concerned states and Union territories at places which shall be publicised and notified to them for the period they are waiting for their turn to board a train or a bus.
A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said that the originating state shall provide meals and water at the station and during the journey while the railways would provide the same to the migrant workers.
It said that food and water be also provided to them for travel in buses.
The bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and M R Shah, directed that states oversee the registration of migrant workers and ensure that they are made to board the train or bus at the earliest.
The top court said that complete information in this regard should be publicised to all concerned.
While hearing a matter relating to migrant workers, the Supreme Court told Centre, “We are concerned with the difficulties of migrants trying to get to their native place. There are several lapses that we’ve noticed in the process of registration, transportation and provision of food and water to them.”
“This is an unprecedented crisis and we are taking unprecedented measures,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court during a hearing on migrant labourers’ situation amid Covid-19 lockdown.
Earlier,Hours before taking suo motu cognisance of “certain lapses” in government measures the Supreme Court received a stinging letter from 10 senior lawyers each from Delhi and Mumbai that was critical of its “self-effacing deference” to the government, “unwillingness” and “apparent indifference” in the face of the “enormous humanitarian crisis”.
The senior lawyers, who include P. Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal, Prashant Bhushan, Indira Jaising, Vikas Singh, Iqbal Chavla, Navroz Seervai, said the way the Supreme Court chose to trust the “bland assertions and patently incorrect statements” made by the Centre reminded them of how it functioned during the Emergency era “when detenues were left to the tender mercy of the executive with ‘Diamond bright, Diamond hard hope” that something would be done”.