A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been moved before the Supreme Court seeking compensation for the families of persons, including migrant workers, who have died or who were injured while walking on roads in an attempt to reach their home states amid the COVID-19 lockdown, reports legal news website BarandBench.com.
The plea seeks directions to ensure the health of all such injured migrant workers and the availability of medical facilities to them. Another prayer made is to "save the migrants labourers from atrocities of police/ security agencies."
The petition has made these prayers while referring to numerous accidental deaths and injuries of men, women and children on the road during their journeys back home.
The petitioner submits that there is clear discrimination between interstate workers and migrants in other countries as a massive mission titled as ‘Vande Bharat’ was introduced by the Central Government to bring back those who were stranded in other countries amid the pandemic. However, no such programme has been initiated for the interstate migrants workers, the plea notes.
Adding on, the petition reads that there is further discrimination by the Government with a pick and choose policy being adopted to pay compensations on the deaths of only some migrant workers. The Union has paid compensation on the death of few migrant workers and the same was covered by the press.
The plea asserts that migrant labourers, being a part of our country are also entitled to all the fundamental rights guaranteed under Part - IIII of the Constitution which includes right to life and livelihood and the right to live with dignity.
It is further stated that the government has been indirectly forcing the migrant workers to walk to home towns as no prior arrangement or adequate policy had been in place for their transportation amid the lockdown.
As stated in the petition, "the government authorities failed to provide safe travel / necessary transportation and protection to migrants labourers due to which many of them have lost their lives and got injuries in road accidents or otherwise."
It is further stated, "... the lack of coordination among Central Government as well as State Governments (is) responsible for deaths and sufferings of migrant labor including deaths and injuries."
On these grounds, the plea has urged the Supreme Court to issue directions to protect and safeguard the fundamental rights of migrant workers.
To this end, the petitioner has urged that the Central Government be directed to pay compensation for the injured migrant workers and for the families of those who died during the nationwide lock down.