Supreme court of India finally responds to the migrant laborers sufferings

Supreme court of India finally responds to the migrant laborers sufferings: Takes suo moto cognizance of the matter

The Supreme Court of India has for almost four decades been recognized as extraordinary influential and powerful and it is often referred to as “the most powerful court in the world”. It was during the emergency years that the Supreme Court of India adopted an activist approach and that was the time when letters and postcards from prisoners were converted to suo moto public interest litigations.

After a nationwide lockdown was announced on March 24th , lakhs of stranded workers tried to move to their native places but the Supreme Court of India faced a lot of criticism after the court displayed deep faith in the replies filed by the government to various PILs on the plight of migrant labourers. Even the ordinary citizens were anguished at the inaction of the apex court. Sadly this faith eroded week after week after the reports of ill treatment, lack of facilities and the problems being faced by the migrant workers surfaced the internet and news channels.

Finally, on May 26th the Supreme Court of India became alive to the suffering of the migrant workers and took suo moto cognizance in the matter.


During the pandemic the High Courts asserted their independent role to protect the citizens.

  • The Gujarat High Court on 11 th May took suo moto cognizance over the plight of migrant workers after several media reports highlighted the issues faced by them due to the lockdown.
  • The Karnataka High Court directed the Central and state government to take immediate decision on the payment of railway fare by the migrant workers who are not capable to pay.
  • The Delhi HC also directed Delhi government to ensure uninterrupted working of the helpline numbers setup to help the migrants. The order came after a PIL was filed by National Campaign Committee for Eradication of Bonded Labour seeking a proper functioning for repatriation of migrant workers.
  • Andhra Pradesh HC while hearing a PIL said that ignoring the plight of migrant workers who are walking back home will amount to dereliction of duty of the court as a protector of the poor. The takeaway counters should be stocked up with drinking water and dehydration salts, sanitary pads dispensing machines should be organized, National Highways Authority of India was also ordered to use patrol vehicles to pick up and transport migrants to nearest shelter.
  • Madras HC also took suo moto cognizance in the matter while hearing a habeas corpus petition seeking protection of 400 Tamil Workers stranded in Maharashtra.

With the mounting criticism faced by the Supreme Court it has finally taken a step in order to make share that the humanitarian grounds are followed in this time of emergency.


  • In a major relief for migrant workers stranded far away from their homes amid the nationwide lockdown. The Supreme Court ordered that no travel fare would be charged from migrant workers for their travel back home. 
  • The apex court ordered the states to provide free meals and water to migrants during their travel.
  • A formal notice has also been issued to the centre to file a response on the matter by May 28 pertaining to what measure have been taken so far to alleviate the migrant sufferings.

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