On Thursday, the Supreme Court posed several questions to the Central Government concerning the migrant workers, stranded amid the lockdown enforced due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, S K Kaul and M R Shah asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, about the confusion over the payment of travel fare of the migrants.
The bench asked, "Are they (migrants) asked to pay for tickets at any stage...the concern is how is the state government paying? Are the workers being asked to shell out money?"
The bench further asked Mehta, "What is the normal time? If a migrant is identified, there must be some certainty that he will be shifted out within one week or ten days at most? What is that time?"
The top court said that there had been instances where one state sends migrants but at the border, another state says we are not accepting the migrants. "We need a policy on this," the bench noted.
"In our country, the middlemen will always be there. But we don't want middlemen to interfere when it comes to payment of fares. There has to be a clear policy as to who will pay for their travel," said the bench.
Meanwhile, the Centre told the Supreme Court that around 91 lakh migrant workers have been transported to their home states in coordination with the state governments on board the Shramik Special trains and road transports between May 1 to May 27.
The top court also queried, "Are they getting food as they wait for trains to be transported?" "They must get food," insisted the top court. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta replied they are being provided food.
The bench had taken the suo moto case titled "In Re: Problems and Miseries of Migrant Work".
(With input from PTI and IANS)
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