An intervention application was filed by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) seeking intervention in suo moto case relating to plight of migrant workers taken by the Apex court of the country. The commission through the intervention tries to examine the laws governing the protection of human rights of migrants and to ensure that these laws are not compromised by suggesting some measures. The commission justified its intervention on the basis of it being in furtherance of its functions under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
The commission informed that it has taken suo moto cognizance based on certain reports of migrants in 6 cases and even issued notices to various governments and departments asking for details of what they have done for providing food, water and other essentials to struggling migrants.
The commission informed the court that Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 is a crucial piece of legislation which governs inter-state migrant workers and provides for making working conditions conducive and preventing exploitation. It further pointed that despite the legislation granting entitlement, journey and displacement allowances, the act wasn’t implemented in recent times as is evident by the plight of migrant workers.
The commission came up with the short-term and long-term measures and asked the court to consider these suggestions as these will be helpful in reducing current grievances of workers and also prevent such plight in future.
Some of the suggestions by NHRC are as follows:-
- Collection of data of migrant workers by states at departure and arrival points so that effective quarantine and relief measures can be planned.
- Proper implementation of Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 by the governments both at central and state level. Special focus should be on providing journey allowance as laid down in the Act.
- Menstrual hygiene must be ensured by provision of appropriate products to migrant women and adolescent girls.
- States should ensure proper shelter homes with provision of medical facilities and nutritious food especially for pregnant women, elderly persons and children.
- Medical check ups for migrants before and after the journey; food and medical care during the journeys should also be ensured for both travelling or walking migrants.
- Originating states must ensure that workers do not resort to begging by providing them some compensation.
- Delays and wrong destination issues of Shramik trains must be addressed by starting a mission similar to that of VandeBharat Mission.
- A fund for payment of ex-gratia relief should be created by the concerned DM, for provision of compensation to every migrant worker.
- A National Portal for registration of migrants should be created to have a nationwide database containing the data about migrant workers.
- Funds must be allocated to the states for further allotment to Gram Panchayats so that employment opportunities for the migrants are created in their home states.
- Provision of compensation to family members of those who died while migrating to their respective states.
- Universal Ration Card must be granted to the migrants.
- Government scheme for affordable rental housing for migrant workers and urban poor must be implemented as soon as possible.
- A more simpler registration process taking into consideration the understanding capability of the migrant workers.
- A special provision must be incorporated in the Inter- State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 to deal with emergency situations.
The matter was taken up by a bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul and MR Shah, it reserved its order and will deliver it on June 9.