The Supreme Court on Monday seeks a report from the Centre on the measures taken in view of the large-scale exodus of migrant workers amid the nationwide 21-day lockdown imposed by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
While taking up two separate petitions with the same subject by advocates Alakh Alok Srivastava and Rashmi Bansal, a bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justice L Nageswara Rao observed that the migration of labourers out of panic and fear was becoming a bigger problem than the coronavirus itself.
“The fear and the panic over the coronavirus pandemic is bigger than the virus itself,” Chief Justice of India SA Bobde while hearing the petition through video conferencing.
In his petition, Alakh Alok Srivastava had asked the government to provide food, water and shelter for migrant workers and their families, who were walking on foot to their village amid the lockdown.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that the central, as well as the state governments, are taking the necessary steps to mitigate the situation.
He further said that he wanted to file an affidavit while replying to the petition filed by Srivastava in this regard.
Following this, the court told the petitioner that it will deal with everything but not with what the government was already doing.
“We were noticing that your petition had prayers, some go which has already been taken care of by the government,” CJI said.
“We want to go through the government’s affidavit, which it has to file, and then we may hear it,” he added.
The apex court posted the matter for hearing on Tuesday.
The petition came a day after a chaotic situation was created at Delhi Anand Vihar Bus Terminal due to thousands of migrant workers rushed to board buses for their home town.
Since the 21-day lockdown has been imposed in the country, thousands of migrant workers in the national capital and in other major cities are stranded with no jobs, shelter and money to survive.
As the transportation services are also suspended, they are stranded in such cities.
Amid the crisis, many workers even started walking towards their 100s of kilometre far hometowns.
Over the weekend, many buses were provided in the national capital for such migrant workers to their hometowns in UP and Bihar.
However, the government has later issued a circular asking the states to shut their borders to ensure the proper follow of lockdown. It also asked for a 14-day mandatory quarantine for such migrant workers.