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SC passes slew of directions on plights of migrant labourers amid COVID-19

ANI | Updated: May 24, 2021 23:14 IST

New Delhi [India], May 24 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Monday passed a slew of directions in connection with the suo motu matter involving the miseries and the problems faced by the migrant labourers and workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The apex court in its order said that registration of unorganised workers should be completed as early as possible and there should be a Common National Database for all organised workers residing in different states.
"We are of the view that process which has been initiated by Ministry of Labour and Employment for creating a National Database for unorganised workers should be completed with collaboration and coordination of the states, which may serve registration for extending different schemes by the States and Centre," a two-judge bench of the top court, headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan and also comprising Justice M R Shah said.
"With regard to distributing of dry ration by the States to the migrant workers and to the migrant workers in the NCR region as directed by us on May 13, 2021, let all States to file affidavits indicating the mechanism by which the dry ration should be distributed to those migrant workers, who does not possess a ration card," the bench added.
The apex court in its order said that whether the Atma Nirbhar Bharat scheme of the Union of India, which was implemented for giving dry rations to migrant workers in May and June, 2020 is to be utilised or some other scheme has to be utilised is a matter for States to take a decision but the dry ration has to be distributed to the migrant workers throughout the country by the States.

"We direct that migrant workers wherever stranded throughout the country should be provided the dry ration under the Atma Nirbhar scheme or any other scheme is found suitable by the States/Centre," the top court said in its order.
The apex Court said that it is the responsibility of the States/Union Territories to provide community kitchen to the stranded migrant workers, who have lost their employment and are in need of two meals a day.
"We direct all the States/Union Territories to make operational the community kitchen to the stranded migrant workers wherever they may situate in the country. There shall be wide publicity with respect to the various schemes including the places of community kitchens so that such needy persons may in fact take benefits," the bench said.
While delving into the submission of the issue of direct cash transfer, the apex court said that lawyers have submitted that although few States have made schemes for direct cash transfer to construction workers and different amounts from Rs 1,000 to Rs 6,000 have been transferred but no such direct transfer scheme is in place with regard to other unorganised workers.
"We are of the view that cash transfer is a matter of policy and scheme framed by each State/Union Territory and no direction for cash transfer can be issued by this court to any category of person unless they are covered by any scheme formulated by the state/ UT," the top court said while making it clear that in the affidavits, which are to be filed by the States/ UTs, the details of the schemes regarding cash transfer be also brought on record.
The Supreme Court will hear the case again on June 11/14, 2021. (ANI)