The Petition on Migrant Workers’ issues filed by NAPM is to be heard tomorrow i.e. May 28 th and has been clubbed with suo moto case by SC.
Medha Patkar and others plead for the Right to life through food, transport, cash deposit, till return of normalcy.
Medha Patkar & Ors. of National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements, have filed a Writ Petition on the serious issue of migrants, which is listed tomorrow in the Supreme Court.
The Writ Petition was filed on 16.05.2020, in which the Central Government as well as States/UTs have been impleaded as parties. The Writ Petition notes with utter shock the heart rendering plight of the poor and migrant labourers (including women-pregnant women and children) who are facing untold sufferings which is beyond narration and can move any sensitive individual.
The Petition acknowledges that only recently some movements of trains/buses have started, but the people are still walking on the roads without proper food, drinking water, shelter and lakhs are stranded in different parts of the country, awaiting for some mode of transport to reach their homes. All this is happenning due to lack of planning and coordination between the different Ministries/Wings of the Central Government and the
State Governments,which has resulted in continuous denial of basic rights of survival guaranteed to the people under our Constitution.
The human rights jurisprudence places the right to food as the most important among all other rights. The State is constitutionally bound to provide food as a matter of right to the poor and hungry especially in the present complex situation. The poor migrant labourers are also entitled to reach their homes safely and securely, which in fact is a part of survival
The Petition emphasises that the Constitution imposes a solemn duty on the Supreme Court, being the highest court of the largest democracy of the world, to be vigilant and ensure that even under normal circumstances the basic rights of the people on which life depends should not be impaired in any manner whatsoever. The duties and obligations of this Hon’ble Court in the extra-ordinary situation like the present increases manifold. This Hon’ble Court must ensure that all schemes and programmes of the Central
Government and State Governments are in tune and harmony and that such
programmes/schemes have an inherent mechanism by which relief is ensured to every individual migrant. These schemes and programmes should be so transparent that at any juncture the Central and State Government should be able to answer any question and is ready to take complete responsibility on itself. These schemes/programmes require continuous monitoring, by this Hon’ble Court with the help of different High Courts in
the country, state instrumentalities as well as the NGOs, as denial would mean continued violation of basic rights of the poor.
The Petition states that it has to be ensured that the schemes/ programmes are so implemented that no migrant person should suffer and in case anybody does, his/her complaint should be heard and redressed promptly in a transparent manner.
These are the basic minimum rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution which include, besides the civil and political rights, the economic, social and cultural rights, for which redressal can be sought under Article 32 of the Constitution.
The Petition points out that the right to move this Hon’ble Court against infringement of the fundamental right is itself a fundamental right and that it is not merely a right of an individual to move this Hon’ble Court, but, it is also a duty of this Hon’ble Court to enforce those guaranteed rights. This Hon’ble Court has emphasized repeatedly and rightly that it is the duty of this court to ensure that the rights of poor and downtrodden are protected and that no discrimination is allowed between the have and have–nots. The
Petitioners have given suggestions regarding framing of a uniform and coordinated scheme to address promptly the problems of migrant workers.
The Petitioners have also pointed out that the present situation will result in creating famine like situation in absence of purchasing power and most of the migrant workers having small land holdings, even if they reach home and, therefore, a continuous duty/obligation is cast on the state to provide food security, medicine, cash deposits and other facilities till the situation becomes normal, which is necessary for bare survival of human being.
The Supreme Court has recently taken suo moto cognisance of the similar issue and issued notices to the Union of India, The States & UT’s.
On request of the Petitioners the Writ Petition has now been listed along with the Suo Motu Matter tomorrow, 28 th May, 2020.
Sanjay Parikh, Senior Advoacte assisted by Abhimanue Shrestha, AOR would assist the Hon’ble Court on behalf of the Petitioners.