Migrant labourers : SC orders Centre, states to entrust management work to volunteers


Agencies, New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed all the state governments and the Centre to entrust the management of migrant workers' shelters to volunteers and not to police.
"You should ensure that you bring volunteers. There shouldn't be use of force or intimidation," the two-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice (CJI) S A Bobde, said.

The Court also suggested Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta to rope in community leaders, so as to prevent panic and calm those in shelter homes.

Hearing a petition filed by lawyer Alakh Alok Srivastava, seeking direction to provide food, shelter and medicines to the migrants and other labourers, who were facing a lot of difficulty during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bench said, 'Ensure trained counselors and community leaders belonging to all faith visit relief camps and prevent panic.'

The Centre told the Court that there is a possibility of three out of 10 persons moving from cities to rural areas, are carrying the lethal virus with them. So far, 28 lakh persons have been screened at the airports and seaports.

As many as 3.5 lakh people are under monitoring, SG Mehta told the SC bench.

The Court also asked the Centre to ensure sufficient water, food, medicine and bed in Shelter Homes housing the migrants.

It also accepted the Centre's contention that migrant exodus cannot be allowed, as virus will spread to rural areas.

Noting that panic kills more people than virus, the Court asked the Centre and the states to rope in counselors, including community leaders, to visit the relief camps and prevent panic.

Effective steps need to be taken (including prosecution) to prevent the spread of fake news pertaining to Coronavirus on FB, Twitter and Tik Tok, it observed.

The SG said exclusive hospitaupls to treat COVID-19 patients were coming . A panel would also be formed soon, headed by a Joint Secretary level official of Health Ministry in this regard, which will have reputed documents of hospitals like AIIMS in it, Mr Mehta added.

The Apex Court will now hear the matter on next Tuesday.