Kar HC | Reluctance of State Govt. to bear train fare of migrant workers, not in a position to pay the same will force them to continue to stay in the State

Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench of Abhay Shreeniwas Oka, CJ and B.V. Nagarathna, J. while deciding with regard to the issue of train fare of migrant workers held that,

“…because of the reluctance of the State Government to bear the train fare of the migrant workers who are not in a position to pay will be continued to stay in the State and look upon to the State Government for providing food and other necessities.”

State Government stated that it is not in a position to pay train fare in respect of the migrant workers who wish to travel to their respective States by Shramik special trains.

Further, it was submitted that, so long as the migrants are living in the State and the present crisis continues, the State will continue to take care of the interests of the migrants and every effort will be made to ensure that they find vocation within the State. If the migrants wish to leave the State, the Government will not impose any restriction for such travel.

There has to be a clarity on the question of the extent of fare charged by the Railways for Shramik special trains.

Bench noted that, none of the submissions of State mentioned with regard to the issue of bearing train fare payable by migrants.

We are not made aware whether any such conscious decision has been taken that the State will not pay the train fare payable to enable those migrant workers to travel by Shramik special trains who are not in a position to pay the train fare.

Further, the Court added to its conclusion that, because of the reluctance of the State Government to bear the train fare of the migrant workers who are not in a position to pay, apart from the allegation that it will violate the fundamental rights of the migrant workers, they will be forced to continue to stay in the State.

They will have to look upon to the State Government for providing food and other necessities.

Migrant workers who are staying in the State by leaving their families in the States of their origin are in precarious position because they are unable to send money for the maintenance of their respective families. These are all human issues which need to be addressed by the State Government as well as the Central Government, considering the concept of Welfare State.

Court directed :

  • the Chief Secretary of the State Government as well as the Secretary of the Labour Department of the State Government to remain present for video conferencing hearing on Tuesday, 26th May, 2020.
  • Additional Solicitor General of India to take instruction from the Central Government and Railways on the question of waiver of train fare for the migrants who have been stranded in the State and who are not in a position to pay.
  • State Government must also make it clear how long it will take care of such migrant workers and their families.
  •  Additional Solicitor General will take instructions whether the State can be permitted to use the funds transferred by the National Disaster Response Fund for payment of train fare of the migrants who are not in a position to pay any amount.

Petition to be listed on 26th May, 2020. [Mohammad Arif Jameel v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine Kar 537 , decided on 21-05-2020]

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