NEW DELHI: A public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in the Supreme Court on Saturday seeking directions to allow migrant workers across the country to go back to their home amid the extended lockdown after being tested for COVID-19.
The PIL said that the state governments should make appropriate arrangements for the travel of migrant workers from cities to their hometowns.
It was moved by advocate Prashant Bhushan on behalf of Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) former professor and founder trustee Jagdeep S Chhokar and advocate Gaurav Jain.
The petition said that the migrant workers, who are amongst the worst affected category of people due to the ongoing lockdown, must be allowed to go back to their homes after being tested for COVID-19.
"Those who test negative for COVID-19 must not be forcefully kept in shelters or away from their homes and families against their wishes. That the government should allow for their safe travel to their hometowns and villages and provide necessary transportation for the same," the petition said.
The plea said that there is a large number of migrant workers who wish to go back to their native villages to live with their families, and the same was evident from the sudden rush in the wake of the initial 21-days national lockdown that led to uncontrollable chaos at various bus terminals and led to tragic deaths of many such migrant workers who were left with no option but to travel hundreds of kilometers to their native places by foot.
"Recently, there have been media reports which show that migrant workers are protesting on streets in some places due to non-payment of their wages and demanding to return to their native villages," the plea said.
It also said that various media reports show that migrant workers are being harassed by the local residents and even beaten in some cases.
The fundamental rights of migrant workers cannot be suspended for an indefinite period forcing them to stay away from their families and living in unpredictable and arduous conditions, the plea added.