Migrants should not be prosecuted-10-06-2020
The Supreme Court on Tuesday said migrant workers should not be prosecuted for trying to reach home amid the national lockdown.
A Bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan directed the Centre and the States to withdraw any complaint or prosecution lodged against migrant labourers who had set out on foot from big cities for their native villages to escape starvation, unemployment and disease during the pandemic.
The court squarely placed the onus on the Centre, the States and the UTs to provide details of employment and benefits schemes to the returned workers. The centres should freely provide information and even “extend helping hand” to those workers who want to return to their places of past employment. The States and UTs were directed to conduct extensive skill-mapping of the returned workers at village and block levels. The court passed the order after suo motu taking cognisance of the migrant workers’ exodus.
The top court reminded that the job of a government was not merely about churning out policies, declaring measures and funds. The court applauded the passion and devotion shown by individuals who came forward to help the migrant workers. It recognised the contributions of NGOs that pitched in for migrant workers and helped fight the pandemic by providing food, water and transportation at their own cost.