SC pulls up Maharashtra for ‘not to our knowledge’ stand on migrant workers’ woes | India News
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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday pulled up the Uddhav Tackeray government for filing an affidavit full of monotonous ‘not to its knowledge’ repostes to allegations by NGOs in PILs that there are still several migrant workers awaiting to go back home and that there are instances of they living in penury without state assistance during lockdown period.
The Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress coalition government had raised eyebrows of a bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M R Shah earlier when it had requested for only one Sharmaik Special train from the Centre in mid-june for transportation of migrant workers back to their home states, when NGOs had alleged that thousands of them were still awaiting their turn to get transport facility to go home.
On Wednesday, the bench asked solicitor general Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the Maharashtra government, about the veracity of the contents of the affidavit. SG said that as many as 3.55 lakh migrant workers have returned to the state as industries and other workplaces have gradually opened up with the easing of stringency of the lockdown.
But, the bench was annoyed by the repeated feigning of ignorance by the state in meeting with the allegations about the migrant workers’ woes. “Your affidavit says you do not know the details of the allegations made in the petitions. You are the state government. It is your duty to find out the details and appraise the court about it. It is unacceptable that the government is unaware of the situation in the state. This is not an adversarial issue that the state will contest everything that is said about the prevailing situation.”
As Mehta accepted that the state government affidavit could have been better worded, the bench said, “We cannot accept the Maharashtra affidavit that there is no shortage of food, water or amenities to any of the migrant workers stranded in the state. It is your duty to find out where they faced difficulties and take remedial measures,” the bench said.
The solicitor general said that the broad picture emerging from the ground is that the migrant workers are returning to their workplaces as they are unable to find work commensurate to their skill levels in the villages of their home state. “It is a happy turnaround,” he said.
But, the bench said, “We have gone through the July 6 affidavit of the State of Maharashtra. We do not appreciate the tenor and the claims made in the affidavit filed on behalf of the State of Maharashtra. The present is not an adversarial litigation and it is the duty of the State to find out shortcomings and lapses wherever found and to do the needful. The State cannot claim that unless the State is informed of the materials, it cannot reply or act.”
Referring to the July 7 an application filed by NGO ‘Sarvahara Jan Andolan’ and ‘Delhi Sharmik Sangathan’ claiming that migrant workers are still awaiting to return to their home state and other difficulties faced by them in Maharashtra have been narrated., the bench directed the Maharashtra government to meet each of the averments made in the application and file a better affidavit before July 17.