Gujarat High Court: A Division Bench of J.B. Pardiwala and Ilesh J. Vora, JJ., took suo moto cognizance of certain issues like the food, shelter for migrant workers, travel to hometowns, etc.

Court took notice of a few news items and took suo moto cognizance of the same, wherein the following was noted:

Caught in the Covid­19 crossfire

In pain? Grin and bear because cops won’t let you met your doc

With the police getting stricter in ensuring that people do not step out of their houses during the lockdown, patients with genuine ailments are suffering as they are at the receiving end”

People at large are finding it difficult t avail the necessary medical services. If a particular person is tested COVID-­19 positive, then he can get himself admitted in the Civil Hospital or any private hospitals as authorised by the State Government.

If a person has any other ailment and is in need of medical treatment, then he cannot be asked to remain himself locked in his house. Bench stated that, necessary arrangements for the same should be made.

Court also takes suo moto cognizance of the following news item:

“Give us food or kill us Now”, more than 200 people – daily wagers and their families – who have been living on footpaths near Ellisbridge say they haven’t had a morsel to eat for the past four days, volunteers used to bring there food, but since total lockdown, even that has stopped, they say”.

Court noted that, a large number of people are without any shelter or food which is the outcome of complete lockdown.

It has been reported that more than two hundred people living on the footpaths near the Ellisbridge have not had a morsel of food for the past four days. It is reported that the volunteers used to bring them food, but since the complete lockdown even that has stopped.

Thus, it is the paramount duty of the State Authorities to ensure that its citizen do not go hungry. It appears that there is no proper coordination amongst various departments of the State Government.

What is most essential as of now is a more humane approach or touch.

It appears the migrant workers are suffering the most. State Authorities should come forward with some modalities or plans to smoothen and ease the process so that the migrant workers may not have to wait for hours and hours together before they are able to board the trains or bus.

Another issue that was taken notice of was that, the Director General of Police State of Gujarat has asked the police to stop any worker seen walking and take them to the nearest shelter home.

For the above-stated, Court asked the State of Gujarat that how many shelter homes are functional and at which places.

Shelter Home should also provide for food and water, more particularly, having regard to the scorching heat.

Although all the necessary steps are being taken by the State Government, yet we are of the view that few more modalities need to be worked out at the earliest to ease the suffering of the people at large.

State Government should take note of the fact that they are dealing with the most downtrodden, under privileged and weaker sections of the society and these people are not afraid of COVID-19, but are afraid that they would die of starvation.

It is hightime for the State Government to deal with this delicate situation very carefully and instill confidence in the minds of the people at large that they will be taken care of.

In view of the above, Court took suo moto cognizance and sought State Government’s response. Matter shall be listed on 14th May, 2020. [Suo motu v. State of Gujarat, 2020 SCC OnLine Guj 718 , decided on 11-05-2020]

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