coronavrus migrants

SC Directs Simplified & Time-bound Registration Process, No Collection of Travel Fare from Workers and Food, Water & Other facilities by Government. NAPM calls for immediate implementation of the Order to address the massive distress of Migrant Workers

29th May, 2020: The Hon’ble Supreme Court heard the issues related to the migrant workers yesterday. Along with the matters taken up suo moto, many interventions as well as the petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution by Ms. Medha Patkar and few other social activists of National Alliance of People’s Movements, was also heard. The petitioners represent various mass organizations and have been helping the impoverished workers and marginalized people & communities in many parts of the country since the very beginning of the lockdown in the month of March.

The Court issued interim directions after hearing the Solicitor General, counsel for states as well as counsels for various parties and interveners.

Some of the key operative aspects of the Order of the Apex Court are:

ü Free travel for all migrant workers. The cost is to be borne by the States.

ü Stranded migrant workers will be provided free food by the states in which they are stranded.

ü Food and water must be provided to those in transit, both in buses and trains. The States or the Railways must bear this cost.

ü States must simplify and speed up the process of registration of migrant workers and set up a helpdesk for the same.

ü Information about modes of transport should be fully publicized and migrants should be put on a train/bus at the earliest.

ü Food, water and transport should be provided for those walking on roads/highways immediately by the concerned States/UTs.

ü The receiving state must provide transport, health screenings and other facilities to returning migrants free of cost.

The Apex Court also agreed to hear other connected matters, including the issue of effect of Covid lockdown on poor and migrant workers, after they reach their destination, following the replies to be filed by the Union and the states, within a week from today.

Along with NAPM, some of the sangathans that approached the court in WP No. 11394 / 2020 and have been involved in relief and support work to migrants include Narmada Bachao Andolan (MP), Jan Jagaran Shakti Sangathan (Bihar), Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (Mumbai), Aman Ki Pehel (Delhi & Haryana), National Domestic Workers Union (Delhi), National Campaign Committee for Rural Workers and Maharashtra Rajya Hamal Mapadi Maha Mandal. The Supreme Court issued notice in this Petition and tagged it along with the suo motu matter. The Court also took note of the suggestions made in Paras 18 &19 of the Petition.

Sr. Adv. Mr. Sanjay Parikh, Sr. Advocate assisted by Mr. Abhimanue Shrestha, AOR appeared in the Petition filed by Ms. Medha Patkar & other social activists. Many other senior counsels including Adv Indira Jaising, Adv. Kapil Sibal, Adv. Colin Gonsalves, Adv. Abhishek Manu Singhvi etc also appeared and brought important matters to the attention of the court.

Although late in the day, NAPM welcomes the interim directions passed by the Apex court and expects that the Central and the State Governments will execute the orders with immediate effect.

NAPM demands that the Centre should also share the financial burden with the States since the impacts of the unplanned lock down have been imposed by the Centre and are being borne disproportionately by States and the migrant workers.

We look forward to substantive developments in the case on the next date of hearing to be held on 5th June, 2020.

Mahendra Yadav, Anand Mazgaonkar, Sanjay M.G, Suniti.S.R, Arundhati Dhuru, Meera Sanghamitra.

National Alliance of People’s Movements E-mail:



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One Comment

  1. Sumanta Banerjee says:

    The `honourable’ (?) judges of the Supreme Court had to be woken up out of their judicial
    stupor ( a term which I am compelled to use, despite the risk of being hauled up by these judges for `contempt of court’) – by civil society groups like the NAPM, and finally by a stinging letter from ten senior lawyers on May 25 criticizing the judges for their earlier judgment of March 31 which expressed “satisfaction’ with the government’s official version that said: “ migrant person was walking on the roads….” This belated judgment of the Supreme court in favour of the migrants does not absolve the judges of their earlier guilt of criminal indifference to the fate of the walking migrants that cost lives.

    Sumanta Banerjee