New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Union Government to resolve the issues raised in the plea seeking payment of minimum wages to all migrant workers within a week amidst the nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19.
The three judge bench headed by Justice NV Ramana heard the petition through video-conferencing.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing petitioners, argued before the bench also comprising Justices R Subhash Reddy and B R Gavai that despite governmental measures, thousands of labourers still lacked access to basic amenities. The learned counsel further argued that studies conducted by NGOs indicate that there are several areas where the aid is not reaching to the migrant workers.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, filed a status report in the Apex court submitting that various measures are in place to address the issues concerning the migrant workers. He further argued that helpline number has been provided to report issues concerning the implementation at the ground level, and that whenever any complaint is received, the authorities are attempting to address the same immediately.
The three-judge bench while disposing of the petition observed that taking into consideration the material placed before the court the court calls "upon the respondent-Union of India to look into such material and take such steps as it finds fit to resolve the issues raised in the petition."
The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) had been filed by human rights activists Harsh Mandher and Anjali Bharadwaj.
The petition drawn by Advocate Cheryl D’Souza states that the Central ministry of Home Affairs has on 29 March passed an order which was insufficient amidst the large scale exodus of migrants workers due to the nation while lockdown. Since the order merely directed employees to pay wages to migrant workers and barred landlords from evicting them in absence of rent due to lockown.
The petitioners claim that the central and state authorities should be ensuring the wages of these migrant workers wherever they are current stuck, instead of the employees.
As per the petition, it is the obligation of the Central and State Government under Disaster Management Act to formulate a detail action place and create a machinery to tackle the issues arising our of the disaster like the spread of Covid-19 and extend immediate and all the help it can to the victims.