In Re Problems and Miseries of Migrant Labourers vs Union Of India & Ors
Date of Order:
29 June, 2021
Ashok Bhushan, Vineet Saran, M.R. Shah
Bandhua Mukti Morcha – Petitioner
Union of India & Ors. - Respondents
The Supreme Court took Suo moto cognizance of In Re: Problems and Mistreatment of Migrant Laborers on May 26, 2020.
I. Article 32 of the Constitution –
Article 32 handles the "Right to Constitutional Remedies," which confirms the right to petition the Supreme Court through the proper channels to have the rights given in Part III of the Constitution enforced.
For the purpose of enforcing any of the rights granted by this Part, the Supreme Court shall have the authority to issue directives, orders, or writs, including writs in the form of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto, and certiorari, as may be appropriate.
II. Article 226 of the constitution –
According to Article 226 of the Constitution, the Hon'ble High Courts may exercise its authority by issuing any necessary writ, including a writ of habeas corpus, mandamus, quo warranto, prohibition, and certiorari.
III. Section 3 of the National Food Security Act, 2013
According to this section, eligible individuals' right to receive food grains at reduced costs under the Targeted Public Distribution System.
IV. Section 9 of the National Food Security Act, 2013
Coverage of population under Targeted Public Distribution System.
- This dire situation has had a significant impact on migrant workers who move to the larger states in search of jobs to support their families.
- Daily wage laborer’s who had to travel significant distances from their hometowns to cities in search of employment were disproportionately impacted.
Duties and derelictions of the government towards migrant workers in the view of the ongoing pandemic, namely
- Whether decisions based on migrant workers who do not qualify for dry rations under the National Food Security Act of 2013 and who do not have ration cards are justified.
- Whether the decision of the States and Union Territories of implementing "One Nation One Ration Card" is justified.
- Whether the National Food Security Act of 2013 covers both rural and urban residents.
- Whether the operation and application of the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act of 1979 is justified.
- Whether decisions based on registering unorganized laborer’slike the following are justified
- in accordance with the legislation, namely the 1996 Act and 2008 Act, and the actions made in this regard by various State Governments;
- The National Database for Unorganized Workers (NDUW) program of the Indian Ministry of Labour and Employment; and
- The system in place to guarantee migrant workers' eligibility for various welfare programs offered by the federal and state governments.
- Whether there should be Community Kitchen of the State/Union Territory for Migrant Laborers; and
- Whether there should be direct bank transfers to workers who are not organized.
Arguments Advanced by The Appellant
- The learned attorney argued that despite the fact that several States have implemented the 1979 statute, neither contractors nor establishments are properly licensed or registered, which prevents migrant workers from receiving the benefits to which they are legally entitled.
- A legislation which has been enacted by the Parliament as a welfare measure for the migrant workers needs to be strictly implemented.
- Affidavits submitted on behalf of various States and Union Territories do not include any information about the Act's implementation in terms of facts and numbers.
- The rights of migrant workers are harmed if the Act is not implemented.
- Therefore, they advanced that a directive must be given to the States and Union Territories to register all enterprises, license all contractors, and guarantee that the contractors completely comply with the law's requirement that they provide information about migrant workers.
- The competent authority may also impose limitations relevant to service conditions, travel reimbursement, and other amenities as specified in Chapter V of the Act when registering establishments and awarding licenses to contractors.
Arguments Advanced by The Respondent
- Learned counsel appearing for Delhi submits that the One Nation One Ration Card Scheme has been implemented by the government of the NCT of Delhi and according to Shri Tushar Mehta's argument, the Government of NCT Delhi has not completely implemented the scheme and has only used 42 e-POS devices in a small number of transactions in one circle, namely Circle No. 63, Seemapuri.
- One of the crucial welfare programs to provide migrants who are covered by the National Food Security Act Scheme with food security is the One Nation One Ration Card program. When migrant workers are dispersed across the nation, each State is required to execute the program, which is a crucial welfare policy for ensuring food security for this group of people.
- And so, this Program, a welfare program for the underprivileged and disadvantaged parts of society, must be implemented by the States.
- When a migrant worker enters a state for employment or work and is covered by the National Food Security Act Scheme, the receiving state has a responsibility to make sure that his rights and entitlements under the Act are not restricted just because he is not in the state where he originally received the ration card under the National Food Security Act Scheme.
- The Court ruled in its Order of May 24, 2021 that all stranded migrants must get dry meals through the Atma Nirbhar program or any other program.
- The Bench added that a central database for the registration of migratory workers is necessary.
- During the hearing on June 11th, Justices Ashok Bhushan and M.R. Shah spoke about the issue of unregistered migrant workers and their ability to get benefits under the Atma Nirbhar plan, the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, and the "One Nation One Ration Card" scheme.
- The migrant workers were in the same situation on June 29, 2021, as they were when the second wave started in March 2020, according to the court's ruling.
- Despite the fact that no court intervention was necessary to arrange transportation for migrants in the second wave, the Court concentrated on seven concerns, including food and rations, workers' rights and registration, and direct bank payments.
It has been established that the pandemic is a lethal ride for everyone in the world. Every person has experienced difficulties during the pandemic, whether it is bodily suffering, mental and emotional suffering, or national economic instability. Everyone has encountered difficulties in the past and has learned how to deal with them again in the future. Every segment of society was impacted by the Corona scenario, whether they be wealthy neighborhoods or regular wage earners.
However, the Corona crisis has been like a life-or-death situation for the daily wage workers, for whom it is tough to survive in these trying times where they fear dying from the lethal virus if they leave their homes and risk starving if they stay since they are jobless and without the funds.
The Indian government has taken action to protect the rights of migrant daily wage workers who made the decision to leave the metropolis and go back to their rural communities, where they at least have their family and a chance to survive.The Supreme Court rendered a decision in favor of migrant workers and provided a set of rules.
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