A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M. R.Shah, while hearing the suo motu case on the migrant crisis during Covid-19 pandemic, said the Maharashtra government has the responsibility to find out which group of migrants are getting food, etc. "Your affidavit says food is being provided to all migrants, but we think it is far from the truth", the bench told the Maharashtra government counsel.
Justice Shah told the counsel to file a proper affidavit. "You have treated this as an adversarial litigation", added Justice Shah. Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, representing Bihar, contended before the bench that in Bihar reverse migration is happening, as migrants want to go back to the cities.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Maharashtra government, submitted before the bench that the trend is that migrants' wish to return to the cities, which is their place of employment. "In Maharashtra migrants who wanted to leave earlier have now decided to stay back, as the state has opened up employment opportunities. From May 1, around 3,50,000 workers came back to work again", said Mehta.
The bench also asked Mehta to advise the Maharashtra government to file a proper affidavit. The apex court also took up the plea by Centre for Public Interest Litigation seeking setting up of a national Covid plan. Mehta contended before the bench that Covid containment plan was already on record and its copies will be provided to parties by tomorrow evening. The top court posted the matter for further hearing on July 17.
On June 9, the apex court passed a slew of directions to state governments and Union Territories to provide benefits for migrant workers, who returned to their native states and directed the governments to submit schemes to generate employment for the migrants, and also to withdraw cases against them for violating lockdown orders.
The bench had noted 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 set off on foot. The bench said that all cases registered against migrants' who allegedly violated lockdown orders, under the Disaster Management Act 2005, should be dropped.