The Supreme Court on Thursday directed that the migrant workers can't be charged travel fare either by train or bus. The apex court also said that the Railways has to provide trains to the States as and when asked for the same, news agency PTI said. "When a migrant worker wishes to go to a state, no state can say that we will not take you," a bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan directed.
The Supreme Court also said that the originating state will provide meals and water at the stations and during the journey, while the Railways would provide the same to the migrant workers. Food and water should also be provided to the migrant labourers for travel in buses, it said.
The bench, also comprising Justices SK Kaul and MR Shah, directed that the States monitor 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 the given matter should be publicised to all concerned states and Union Territories (UTs).
It said though there is no doubt that concerned State governments and UTs are taking steps, several lapses have been found in the process of registration, transportation and providing food and water to migrants. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the apex court that 50 lakh migrants have been moved to their homes by Shramik Specials between May 1 and 27. He also said that 41 lakh workers were sent through the road.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court earlier this week took suo motu cognisance of the plight of migrant labourers stranded across the country amid coronavirus lockdown. The apex court had said that there are lapses on the side of the Centre and the State governments and urgent measures are needed to address the problems of migrant labourers. The top court had also asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to assist it on the issue.
There were reports of many migrants being stranded in different parts of the country due to the suspension of transport services amid lockdown. Many walked long distances to reach their villages from the urban centres of the country.