Some High Courts running ‘parallel government’, Solicitor General claims in Supreme Court

Solicitor General of India in SC accused ‘prophets of doom’ and ‘armchair intellectuals’ of instigating migrant workers to leave. SG held that workers were leaving on foot because of local instigation

NH Photo by Pramod Pushkarna
NH Photo by Pramod Pushkarna

NH Web Desk

In an impassioned plea on Thursday, Solicitor General of India Mr Tushar Mehta maintained that the issue of migrant workers had been politicised and that “some High Courts” were running ‘parallel governments’.

The SG appealed to the apex court not to allow the court to be used as a political platform and went on to say, “for these arm chair intellectuals, Lordships are neutral only if they abuse the executive”.

Appearing on behalf of the central government, the SG claimed that the government had shifted 10 million migrant workers to their home states and that some migrants were still walking “because of anxiety or local level instigation, where they said—walk now, trains won’t run; lockdown extended…”

The SG also claimed that Uttar Pradesh was doing good work and every migrant returning to the state was being ‘given food kits, one thousand Rupees in cash and are quarantined before leaving them to their villages’.

In a stunning argument, the SG also said that petitioners on the issue of migrant workers should establish their credentials first before they are heard. He seemed to suggest that unless petitioners prove that they had helped the migrants on the street, they should not be heard by the court.

"If a handful of people want to control the institution, then it will become an ADM Jabalpur incident. All these people wanting to intervene need to apply the vulture and child story…the question to ask is, what have they contributed? Your lordships must ask them to file an affidavit on their contribution? Except for writing on social media, penning articles, giving interviews?”

He also claimed that four million migrant workers had been shifted by road. He also claimed that fare for migrants in ShramikSpecial trains was being paid to the Railways by either the originating state or the receiving state.Meals and water during the journey, he added, were being provided free of cost by the Railways, he informed the court.

Indian Railways had served 80 lac meals and over 10 million bottles of drinking water.

Questioned by the court, the SG told the court that NGOs and self-help groups had also served 92,000 meals besides industry and employers.

“There are ‘Prophets of Doom’ in our country who only spread negativity, negativity, negativity. These arm chair intellectuals do not recognise the nation's effort…these prophets of doom don’t even have the patriotism to acknowledge this. State governments and ministers are working overnight. None of these people acknowledge that - each and every living being is under threat,” he added.

The SG buttressed his argument by narrating an anecdote in court.

“There was a photographer who went to Sudan in 1983. There was a vulture and a panic-stricken child. The vulture was waiting for the child to die. He photographed it and the photo was published in NYT & the photographer was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. He committed suicide after 4 months…a journalist had asked him - what happened to the child? He said I don’t know, I had to return home. Then the reporter asked him - how many vultures were there? He said one. The reporter said - no. There were two. One was holding the camera.”

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