West Bengal MP Mohua Mitra writes to CJI about plight of migrant workers

While court is scheduled to hear the letter petition on April 3, Centre made a submission in a similar petition stating that as on March 31, there were no migrant workers stranded on the roads

Representative Image of migrant workers returning home after 21 days lockdown announced (Photo Courtesy: Twitter)
Representative Image of migrant workers returning home after 21 days lockdown announced (Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

NH Web Desk

Member of Parliament from West Bengal Mahua Moitra, has written to Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and other judges of the Supreme Court about the condition of the migrant workers stranded amid the lockdown imposed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, reports legal news website BarandBench.com.

The MP from Krishnanagar, West Bengal says she's constrained to write the letter petition owing to the "extremely distressing" circumstances as regards migrant workers, which need urgent consideration by the apex court.

A three-week long nationwide lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24, which came into effect starting March 25. While this lockdown is necessary in order to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, it has also led to a humanitarian crisis, Moitra says in her letter dated March 31.

"While no public spirited citizen disagrees with the intent and rationale behind the lockdown and the ensuing quarantine to contain the pandemic, however the manner of its execution has put in jeopardy the lives of thousands of helpless migrant workers and their families across India," Moitra wrote.

Moitra has also attached copies of various distress messages she has received from migrant workers from West Bengal who have been stranded in other cities. She points out that thousands of workers had to take to walking to make the long journey back home and said that it is partly because many workers were not paid their wages by private employers.

"These poor workers, some of them employed at construction sites and others in factories, are thousands of kilometres away from their homes and live in extreme penury," she wrote.

Moitra has urged the court to take cognizance of the issue, underlining that these workers live in extreme poverty and asserting that in the absence of any action from the executive, there will be deaths due to starvation during the lockdown.

Moitra has prayed for the court to issue directions to the executive agencies to make arrangements for the stranded workers, as well as for the employers to release wages to these workers, along with food ration and shelter "till the crisis abates".

While the court is scheduled to take up this letter petition for hearing on Friday, April 3, it is pertinent to note that while hearing another petition touching upon the issue of migrant workers, the Centre had made a submission on record to state that as on March 31, 11 am, there were no migrant workers stranded on the roads, says the report carried by BarandBench.com.

The Centre had told the apex court that migrant workers were being lodged in nearest available shelter homes. The Supreme Court Bench headed by CJI SA Bobde had also directed the authorities to ensure

availability of food, drinking water, and medicines to the migrant workers housed in shelters.

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