New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday passed a slew of directions to the state governments and Union Territories to provide benefits to the migrant workers who have returned to their native states, and directed them to come up with schemes to generate employment for the migrants.
The top court also told the states and UTs to withdraw cases against them for violation of lockdown orders.
A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M.R. Shah said that employment generation should be explored by the home state of the migrant workers, besides facilitating their journey to their native places, if they are interested.
The top court also ordered withdrawal of complaints against migrant workers who had set off for their homes on foot amid the lockdown.
The bench said that all cases registered against migrants who allegedly violated lockdown orders, under the Disaster Management Act 2005, should be dropped.
"All concerned states/UTs to consider withdrawal of prosecution/complaints under Section 51 of Disaster Management Act and other related offences lodged against the migrant labourers who allegedly violated measures of lockdown by moving on roads during the period of lockdown enforced under the Disaster Management Act, 2005," said the top court.
All migrant workers should be sent back home within 15 days starting Tuesday, and they should be identified through registration in their home states, added the bench, as it asked the states and the UTs to submit their response by July 8.
"All the states/Union Territories shall take all necessary steps regarding identification of stranded migrant workers in their state who are willing to return to their native places and take steps for their return journey by train/bus which process may be completed within a period of 15 days from today," said the top court.
The bench added that the authorities concerned should map the employment relief provided to the migrant workers and the Centre and the states should adopt a streamlined process to identify them.
"The counselling centres, established, as directed above, shall also provide necessary information by extending helping hand to those migrant workers who have returned to their native places and who want to return to their places of employment," said the top court.
The top court also appreciated the role of NGOs in helping stranded migrant workers in various ways. "In this difficult time, non-governmental organisations and individuals have also contributed and played an important role in extending helping hand to the migrants. The society as a whole was moved by miseries and difficulties of migrant labourers and it exhibited its passion and devotion by way of individuals," said the top court.
The details of all migrant labourers, who have reached their native places, shall be maintained with details of their skill, nature of employment, and earlier place of employment, added the bench.
"The list of migrant labourers shall be maintained village wise, block wise and district wise to facilitate the administration to extend benefit of different schemes which may be applicable to such migrant workers," ruled the court.
The ruling from the bench came on the problems and difficulties faced by the migrant workers in the backdrop of the nationwide lockdown imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus.
The top court had taken suo moto cognizance of the matter. It also directed the states and the UTs to set up counselling centres to disseminate information on jobs and benefit schemes.
"All states and Union Territories shall also give details of all schemes which are current in the state, benefit of which can be taken by the migrant labourers including different schemes for providing employment," added the bench.
The top court said the authorities concerned should gather information on the details of workers, which include the nature of their past employment, and also the counselling centres to help them go back to their place of employment.