Bombay high court(File photo)
MUMBAI: Bombay high court on Friday directed the Maharashtra government to inform how it processes applications by migrant workers to board the Shramik special trains and interstate buses. The court also sought to know if the information is shared with the migrants.
A bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice K K Tated heard a public interest litigation by the Centre of Trade Unions (CITU), which represents migrant workers, and two migrant workers, Shaikh Islam and Sekh Lal Mohammad who reside in a slum at Jijamata Nagar, Worli. Islam and Mohammad had applied in the first week of May to return to their villages in West Bengal but have not been provided information on the status of their applications. While waiting for the information, they continue to live in squalid conditions in a shelter shared by over eight persons and without social distancing.
Representing the petitioners, senior advocate Gayatri Singh alongwith advocate Ronita Bector, submitted that migrants are being kept in the dark about the status of their applications. Singh said as a result they are congregating in large numbers in certain areas hoping that they will be picked from there to board the trains. The judges concurred with her saying they have been seeing in newspapers that social distancing is not maintained while migrants are made to wait to board trains. They questioned why the State has not devised a method for migrant workers to be informed about their applications
Additional solicitor general Anil Singh said before the Supreme Court, hearing the matter suo motu, Maharashtra government had made commitment with regard to the number of migrants they have transported and will continue to transport in compliance with SC’s order. The judges said this PIL is about a local issue of how applications of migrant workers are being processed. Government’s advocate said the two petitioners had not submitted their applications. But Singh said her two clients were called even on Thursday night and made to wait for hours while enquiries were made on their applications.
The judges, in their order, directed the State to file an affidavit informing about applications of migrants what is the procedure for processing applications and whether the information is shared with them.