‘How Can We Stop It?’ Says SC Dismissing Petition On Migrants

Migrants on road - Sakshi Post

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed an application seeking a direction to the Centre to ask all District Magistrates to identify stranded migrant workers and provide shelter, food to them before ensuring their free transportation to native places.

A three-member bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao observed that it is impossible for courts to monitor or stop the movement of migrant workers across the country and it is for the government to take necessary action in this regard.

"There are people walking and not stopping. How can we stop it?" the bench observed.

The bench, which also comprised Justices S K Kaul and B R Gavai, asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta whether there was any way to stop these migrants workers from walking on the roads.

Mehta said states are providing inter-state transport to the migrant workers but if the people start walking on foot instead of waiting for transportation, then nothing can be done. He said authorities can only request these people not to start walking on foot as using any force to stop them would be counter-productive.

Mehta told the bench, which was hearing the matter through video-conferencing, that subject to the agreement between state governments everybody would get a chance to travel to their destinations.

Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, who had filed the plea, referred to recent incidents of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh where migrant workers were killed in accidents on highways. He had filed the plea soon after the Aurangabad incident in which 16 migrant workers, who were returning to Madhya Pradesh and had slept on railway tracks, were mowed down by a goods train.

On the Aurangabad train accident, the court observed, "How can anyone stop this when they sleep on railway tracks?"

The court also berated the advocate, saying his petition was "totally based on newspaper clippings".

"Every advocate read incidents in the paper and become knowledgeable about every subject. Your knowledge is totally based on newspaper clippings and then you want this court to decide. Let the state decide. Why should this court decide or hear? We will give you special pass. Can you go and implement government orders?" the court said.

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