The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that migrant workers, stranded in different parts of the country due to the lockdown, must be identified and sent home within 15 days.
Further, the bench also ordered that cases filed against the poor laborers for defying the strict restrictions (by crowding at railway stations, bus stops) must be considered for withdrawal under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
The laborers were worst-hit by the lockdown, enforced on March 25, to keep a check on the transmission of coronavirus.
They were left with no jobs and since all modes of transportation were suspended, they decided to walk towards their native states.
Some of them hitched rides on trucks, some cycled for thousands of kilometers. Dozens of workers died before reaching home.
The apex court took suo motu cognizance of the heart-wrenching tragedy in May.
During an early hearing, SC ordered sending states to give meals to the laborers and directed Railways to provide them with food and water on the Shramik Special Trains, which were started to ferry them home.
On June 5, SC gave governments 15 days' time to complete the transportation process.
The bench of Justices MR Shah, Ashok Bhushan, and SK Kaul asked Railways to provide Sharmik trains within 24 hours of the request being placed. Governments were asked to publicize schemes meant to help the workers.
Counseling centers must also be set up to help workers return to bigger cities in the future, SC added.
And helpdesks must help migrants with employment, said SC.
During the last hearing, the Centre's representative, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, informed SC that nearly 1 crore left for their native places.
57 lakh were transported in 4,228 trains and nearly 41 lakh went home via road.
He had also told the court that migrants are not charged for train fares. The receiving or sending states bear the cost.
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