Bombay High Court
Bombay High Court

Mumbai: Voicing concerns over the 'unfathomable' hardships of labourers, daily wagers and also the migrants, the Bombay High Court on Monday ordered the Maharashtra government to provide them food, clothing, shelter and also healthcare to avoid the spread of coronavirus. HC has also ordered the government to call upon charitable public trusts to contribute for providing amenities to labourers in these trying times.

A single-judge bench of Justice Sunil Shukre took cognizance of the issue of labourers migrating to the neighbouring states or to their villages in Maharashtra, while hearing a plea urging directives to the government to pay all the bills of the year 2019-2020, by April 1.

The bench accepted the government’s statement that it will be paying the bills by the said date.

While disposing of the matter, Justice Shukre noted, "There is another issue related to spread of the deadly virus on account of movement of laborers along with the family members from citis to rural areas within the state and also to other states as a result of complete lockdown. Owing to such large scale movement of laborers there is further danger of spreading of the virus, which is apart from the unfathomable hardships faced by them."

The judge, accordingly opined that it would be "sensible" to provide clothing, medicine and health care to these labourers.

He also referred to an order of the Guwahati High Court which recently ordered the Assam government to take care of the migrant labourers.

"In Maharashtra as well, it is necessary to make arrangement for the stay, food, sanitation, clothing and health care of the labourers including the migrants," Justice Shukre said.

"I am conscious of the fact that making arrangements would require funds. Thus, I can only suggest that one of the ways to mobilise the funds could be through calling upon all public charitable trusts to contribute their moneys for public purpose," Justice Shukre added.

The bench further said that the government must consider inviting charitable trusts under the public trusts and the Wakf trust act to discharge their responsibility and utilize their moneys for this noble cause. The bench clarified that the percentage of amount from these charitable trusts would be determined by the state government under its powers to make rules.

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