Submit rehabilitation plan for migrant labourers: Allahabad HC to UP gov’t

The court also asked the state to submit a plan to reduce migration of people to other states


The Allahabad High Court, while issuing notice to the Uttar Pradesh government in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) concerning migrants’ issues, has asked the state government what measures it plans to take for rehabilitation of the labourers who have returned to the state and its plan to reduce migration to other states.

The bench headed by Chief Justice Govind Mathur asked for an explanation from the state about the policy and norms for providing medical facilities and treatment to the migrant workmen and their families and further to stop spreading of COVID-19 in rural parts of the state.

The petition filed by two advocates, Gaurav Tripathi and Ritesh Srivastava, states that migrants are “travelling on foot from hundreds of kilometres from their working place to the hometown/village” since “neither the Central Government nor the State Governments where the labourers were working made adequate arrangements for their movement and their families.” The petition also highlighted that those migrants who could avail of trains made available to them, were not provided with food, thus facing starvation in the long journey. Further, non-availability of food and water has caused even violence at Kanpur and Unnao. The petition says that the attitude of the governments “is highly deplorable as they failed to maintain even survival of the human beings, services of whom were utilized by them for their prosperity”.

The petition also points towards Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India which demand for protection of dignity and human status of such migrant labourers, as well as the Directive Principles of State policy which indicate to have a complete policy/programme to secure a social order for promotion of welfare of the people as well as to ensure the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children be not abused.

The petition also brought to fore the issue of migration by stating that “due to nonavailability of basic infrastructure for employment in the State of Uttar Pradesh, lakhs of people migrate to other states in search of employment” and although India is a Union and not a federal structure, “it is necessary for the State of Uttar Pradesh to strengthen its edifice for local employment.”

The Court, firstly pointed out that “in fact there is no term like “Migrant Labourer” or “Migrant Workmen”. The statute prescribes only the labourer or workmen hence, it was the responsibility of the State Governments where the workmen or labourers were working, to provide them all necessary facilities and amenities during the lockdown.

The court issued notice to the state government and called upon the State to,

“explain about the policy and norms for providing medical facilities and treatment to the migrant workmen and their families and further to stop spreading of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in rural parts of the State of Uttar Pradesh and further about the scheme of the Government for rehabilitation of migrant workmen and their families in the State of Uttar Pradesh itself. The State is also required to give a complete layout to reduce migration of the natives of Uttar Pradesh to other parts of the country to earn minimum livelihood.”

The bench also pointed out that it will not indulge in dealing with the issue with regard to transportation and providing food for the labourers since the matter is already sub judice in the suo moto petition of the Supreme Court.

The complete order may be read here.



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