The Supreme Court took suo moto cognisance of the migrant crisis and asked some tough questions to the central government on Thursday. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who appeared for the government faced a three-judge bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan, S K Kaul and M R Shah to answer a string of questions. The Centre in its response to the questions said that the migrant crisis is an unprecedented one and an unprecedented number of steps were being taken.
The apex court asked questions regarding food, shelter, funding of tickets and the entire process of transportation of migrant workers. When asked how the tickets are being funded, Mehta said that in some cases the destination state provides the fare, while in some cases the originating state does. "In some cases, the money is reimbursed by the receiving state," said Mehta, according to a report in Live Law.
The Supreme Court wanted to know if migrant workers were being asked to shell out money at any point. "How many days will be required to transport all the migrants back to their states?" the bench asked. It added that it is not saying that the Centre is doing nothing but reiterated that further measures need to be taken.
SG Mehta said that around 97 lakh migrant workers have been transported so far and that several workers opted not to move out as work started resuming. It added that around 84 lakh meals have been provided to them. The Centre said that it would not stop its efforts till "even a single migrant remains".
The court said that the Centre should draw up a time frame required to move a migrant once they are identified for travel.
The Centre said that the court should not allow "prophets of doom" to make it a platform for political speeches. "Those want to be heard, let them file affidavits on what their contribution is to migrants," said the Solicitor General.
The hearing comes as a host of petitions including from Congress and activist Medha Patkar were filed regarding the migrant crisis, calling for shelter homes, food and uniform ticketing policy.