A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said that the originating state shall provide meals and water at the station and during the journey the Railways would provide the same to the migrant workers.
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Here are the key points of the SC directive:
* The SC bench of justices Ashok Bhushan, S K Kaul and M R Shah observed that it is presently concerned with the miseries and difficulty faced by the migrants workers who are trying to get to their native places.
* It said that there was no clarity as to who will pay for the fare of the migrant workers and this confusion was fully exploited by the middlemen.
* The top court said there is no doubt that the governments have taken steps but there are many deserving persons who did not get benefits meant for them.
* It ordered that the migrant workers shall be charged no fare for rail or road transport to their homes; while they are stranded and waiting for their turn for train or but to go home, the concerned state will provide food shelter and water.
* It asked the Centre and states to give plans on transporting back all migrant workers wanting to return home and the mechanism to provide them with food and shelter.
* The apex court asked the Centre to specify “why migrant workers waited so long despite registering for going home? “Are they asked to pay for ticket and later reimbursed? They should not be charged at all. Are they getting food as they wait for trains to be transported? They must get food.”
* The Centre was asked to specify how many more days would it require for states and Railways to transport those migrant workers who are still waiting for their turn to go home.
* The SC said till all of them, who want, are safely sent back to their homes, the governments must ensure they got food, water and basic amenities.
* It said those migrant workers in relief camps may be getting food but there are many staying in tenanted premises who are suffering due to the lockdown. This appears more acute in Maharashtra, the SC said.
* The bench directed that states shall oversee the registration of migrant workers and ensure that they are made to board the train or bus at the earliest.
* The top court asked the Centre and states to furnish the plan by next Friday.
* In its response, the Centre said the central and state governments have done a lot to control the Covid situation and help the migrant workers. But certain unfortunate incidents were repeatedly telecast or reported to shadow the good work by governments.
* The Centre informed that 91 lakh migrant workers have been transported to their home states in coordinatarion with states through Shramik specials and road transport between May 1-27.
* Solicitor general Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, said that because of a proper screening at the boarding and alighting points for migrant workers, Covid-19 has not spread to rural areas.
* The Centre added that initially there was confusion as to who would pay the Railways the fare of migrant workers. Some states charged fare from migrants. But later a consensus was reached that ticket fare for migrants would be paid by either originating or receiving state.
* Mehta said all the state governments irrespective of the party affiliation or ideology have done their best to help transportation of migrant workers to their home states through trains and buses.
* The Centre said that barring few initial problems of blocking entry of migrants from one state by another, the Centre and states are now working in tandem without any discord for transportation of migrant workers.
In Video:SC directs states, Railways not to charge fare from migrant workers returning home