Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: After taking suo motu cognizance of problems and miseries of migrant labourers who had been stranded in different parts of the country on Tuesday and receiving a response from Government, the 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul and MR Shah, JJ has issued interim directions and has held that no fare either by train or by bus shall be charged from any migrant workers.

“The railway fare shall be shared by the States as per their arrangement as submitted by the learned Solicitor General and in no case any fare should be asked or charged from any migrant workers by the States and the Railways.”

The Court had, on 26.05.2020, taken up the issue suo motu based on, newspaper and media reports and several letters and representations it received from different sections of society highlighting the problem of migrant labourers. The Court had directed the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to assist the Court and by the next date of hearing bring in the notice of the Court all measures and steps taken by the Government of India and to be taken in this regard.

Submissions by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta

  • from 01.05.2020, the migrant workers have been sent to their destination i.e. home town by Shramik trains and also by road. 50 lacs migrant workers have been shifted by Shramik trains and about 41 lac migrant workers have been transported by road transport.
  • food and water are provided by the originating concerned State from where the migrant workers start their journey and when the journey is undertaken by railways, the railways provides the meal.
  • the receiving State takes care of the migrant workers and drop them to their home by buses. It also takes steps for quarantining those workers and necessary screening is also conducted.
  • the fare is borne either by the originating State or the receiving State as per their internal arrangement.
  • all the States have set up different relief camps where migrant workers are provided water, food, stay etc. and with regard to migrant workers who are staying in different places in the country, they are provided under the scheme of the Government ration to them even without they having any ration card.
  • all the migrant workers do not intend to go back to their native place due to opening up of so many industries / establishments.
  • wherever the migrant workers are found walking on-foot, there are instructions to the State Authorities to facilitate a bus or a vehicle for them to take to their onward journey or they are sent to relief camps and provided shelter and food.

Observations of the Court

The Court noticed that although there is no doubt that the concerned State Governments/Union Territories are taking steps to do the needful but there are several difficulties and lapses which are being noticed. It was, however, of the opinion that

“both the Central Government and the State Governments / Union Territories are required to be given some reasonable time to bring the steps taken by them on the record.”

It, hence, issued interim directions pending consideration of the detailed reply and affidavits from the State Governments and the Central Government.

Interim Directions

  1. No fare either by train or by bus shall be charged from any migrant workers.
  2. The migrant workers who are stranded at different places in the country shall be provided food free of cost by the concerned States/Union Territories at different places which shall be publicized and notified to them during the period they are waiting for their turn to board the train or bus.
  3. The originating State shall provide water and meal and during the journey, the railways shall provide meal and water to the migrant workers and same facilities shall be extended when the migrant workers are transported by bus. The State shall take care of providing necessities water and meal during the period of transportation either in the bus or in the camps on the way.
  4. The State shall simplify and speed up the process of registration of migrant workers and also provide help desk for registration at the places where they are stranded.
  5. The State shall try to endeavour that after registration the workers should be asked to board the train or bus at the earliest and complete information should be publicized to all the concerned regarding mode of transport.
  6. Those migrant workers who are found walking on the highways or roads shall be immediately taken care by the concerned State / Union Territories and they shall be provided the transport to the destination and all facilities including food and water be provided to those found walking on the road.
  7. The receiving State, after the migrant workers reach his native place, shall provide transport, health screening and other facilities free of cost.

The Court will next take up the matter on 05.06.2020.

[In re : Problems and Miseries of Migrant Labourers, SUO MOTU WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) No(s). 6/2020, order dated 28.05.2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Taking suo motu cognizance of problems and miseries of migrant labourers who had been stranded in different parts of the country, the 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul and MR Shah, JJ has issued notice to the Union of India and all States / Union Territories to submit their responses by Thursday i.e. 28.05.2020, looking into the urgency of the matter.

The Court took sup motu cognizance based on, newspaper and media reports and several letters and representations it received from different sections of society highlighting the problem of migrant labourers.

The Court said that the newspaper reports and the media reports have been continuously showing the unfortuanate and miserable conditions of migrant labourers walking on-foot and cycles from long distances. They have also been complaining of not being provided food and water by the administration at places where they were stranded or in the way i.e. highways from which they proceeded on-foot, cycles or other modes of transport.

“In the present situation of lockdown in the entire country, this section of the society needs succor and help by the concerned Governments especially steps need to be taken by the Government of India, State Governments/Union Territories in this difficult situation to extend helping hand to these migrant labourers.”

Noticing that although the Government of India and the State Governments have taken measures yet there have been inadequacies and certain lapses, the Court was of the view that effective concentrated efforts are required to redeem the situation. It said,

“The adequate transport arrangement, food and shelters are immediately to be 1 provided by the Centre and State Governments free of costs.”

The Court, hence, directed the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to assist the Court and by the next date of hearing bring in the notice of the Court all measures and steps taken by the Government of India and to be taken in this regard.

[In re : Problems and Miseries of Migrant Labourers. SUO MOTU WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) No(s). 6/2020, order dated 26.05.2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

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, WP No. 6435 of 2020, decided on 21-05-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: The Division Bench of Abhay Sreenivas Oka, CJ, and B.V. Nagrathna, J., took the Government of Karnataka to task for not having a clear stand on the issue of paying the train fares of the migrants who wish return to their State of Origin.   

Before focussing on the migrant’s issues, the Court took notice of the ‘shocking’ response by the State Government in dealing with the issue of marriage in the house of a prominent politician on 17-04-2020. The Bench observed that how the administration went out of their way to ensure that the marriage is organised; and that there is no clarity on whether the Lockdown Guidelines issued by the Central Government in the month of April were followed properly or not. Refusing to waste it’s time on the issue, the Court then sought to address the, issues of migrant workers who are stranded on the streets.  The Court observed that from 17-05-2020, various ‘shramik trains’ have been allowed to transport 70,000 migrants from the State of Karnataka to their home States. It was noted that the Government of Karnataka is bearing the travel expenses of the migrants working in other States who originally belong to the State of Karnataka. However, the stand taken vis-a-vis the migrants in the State who want to go back to their States of origin is that, unless the corresponding States to which the migrants wish to travel, agree to bear the train fare, the migrant will have to pay the train fare. It was argued that Government’s differentiation of migrants on basis of their State of Origin is violative of Articles 14, 15 and 19 (1) (d) of the Constitution. The Additional Advocate General appearing for the State Government submitted that the Supreme Court has already dealt with the issue.   

Upon perusal of the facts and arguments, the Bench observed that the Central Government’s stand on the issue that “in case of migrant workers from other States which have not agreed to pay the train fare of the migrant workers, the State Government will have to pay the fare to the Railways and thereafter, take up the matter with the corresponding States for reimbursement of the amounts”.

Thus the Court directed the State Government to clarify whether it wants to stray from the stand taken by the Centre; or they really want to take a stand along the line that, a migrant worker who has no income and is not in a position to pay Railway fare will not be allowed to travel by special trains to his home State. [ Mohd. Arif Jameel v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine Kar 538 , decided on 18-05-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) has exempted pregnant women officials and staff members from attending office.

The Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh said, a circular to this effect has been issued and is expected to be followed by different Ministries/Departments as well as State/Union Territory governments.

Dr Jitendra Singh said, pregnant women employees who are not already on maternity leave will also be exempted from attending office. Persons with disabilities are also to be given similar exemption from attending office.

The latest circular issued by the DoPT also states that Government servants who have underlying Co-morbidities and were undergoing treatment for these ailments before the lockdown, may, as far as possible, be exempted upon production of medical prescription from treating physician as per the CGHS/CS (MA) Rules, as applicable.

What is important, is to strictly observe staggered timings for the arrival and departure of the officers and the staff. In order to avoid unnecessary crowding, all the Heads of Departments have been advised to ensure three sets of timings. These would be 9 AM to 5 PM, 9:30 AM to 6 PM and 10 AM to 6:30 PM respectively.

While officers of the level of Deputy Secretary and above are expected to attend office on all working days, the officers and staff below the level of Deputy Secretary will attend office with 50% attendance every alternative day and those not attending the office should work from home and remain available on telephone and electronically.

Dr Jitendra Singh appreciated the staff in the Ministry of Personnel for having continued to work with full commitment during the entire phase of lockdown. In fact, he said, some of the staff members were working from home even during the weekends which normally does not happen when the offices are closed.

Every care has been taken to ensure that while offices continue to function, at the same time, the welfare and safety of officials is not overlooked, said Dr Jitendra Singh.


Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions

[Press Release dt. 20-05-2020]

[Source:PIB]

COVID 19Law made Easy

As the world is struggling to overcome the mass destruction that deadly COVID-19 disease is causing, India is also scuffling to eradicate and aware the citizens about the effects that spitting in open public spaces leads to.

Spitting in India is as common as that warning sign of “no spitting” at all places possible. Though a number of laws and provisions by the Centre and State have been laid down, yet this particular issue is a major hurdle that our country needs to surpass.

Especially in these times of COVID-19, spitting could be one of the major stumbling block that would only increase the precariousness of this disease and if we as a country could overcome this peril then we could probably be able to move one step ahead in defeating this deadly pandemic.

Laws against Spitting in India

Central Acts & Rules [List is inclusive, not exhaustive]

Spittoons- (1) In every factory there shall be provided a sufficient number of spittoons in convenient places and they shall be maintained in a clean and hygienic condition.

(2) The State Government may make rules, prescribing the type and the number of spittoons to be provided and their location in any factory and provide for such further matters relating to their maintenance in a clean and hygienic condition.

(3) No person shall spit within the premises of a factory except in the spittoons provided for the purpose and a notice containing this provision and the penalty for its violation shall be prominently displayed at suitable places in the premises.

(4) Whoever spits in contravention of sub-section (3) shall be punishable with fine not exceeding five rupees.

Rule 3 Clause (b) read with Rule 4

Rule 3 talks about the — Prohibition of activities affecting cleanliness and hygiene in the railway premises

Under the above rule, clause(b) specifically talks about that No Person shall cook, bathe, spit, urinate, defecate , feed animals or birds, repair or wash vehicles , washing utensils or clothes or any other objects or keep any type of storage in any railway premises except in such facilities or conveniences specifically provided for any of these purposes

Further, Rule 4 is the penal provision for violation of the above stated Rule, wherein the Fine would amount to Rupees 500.

What is to be read in the said regulation?

Regulation 98 [sub-rule (2) in specific] 

Now, Regulation 98 specifically talks about “Spittoons”

  1. In every portion of a dock including warehouses and store places, sufficient number of spittoons shall be provided in convenient places and they shall be maintained in a clean and hygienic condition.
  2. No person shall spit in the dock area except in the spittoons provided for the purpose and a notice containing this provision shall be prominently displayed at suitable places.
  3. Whoever spits in contravention of sub-regulation (2) shall be punishable with a fine not exceeding one hundred rupees.
  4. The spittoons shall be of an approved type.
  5. The spittoons shall be emptied, cleaned and disinfected at least once in every day.

State Acts

Almost every State has similar provisions against the menace of spitting in public in their Municipal Acts. Similar anti-spitting provisions are also noticed in Police Acts of various States. However, a few States also have specific Acts prohibiting/penalising spitting in public. Again, the following list is inclusive, not exhaustive.

  • Kerala Prisons and Correctional Services (Management) Act, 2010 : Section 81(9) r/w Section 82 Madhya Pradesh Public Health Act, 1949
  • Nagaland Municipal Act, 2001 : Section 441 r/w Sections 471, 472
  • Orissa Urban Police Act, 2003 : Sections 80 [clause (c) to be specific], 83 r/w Section 84
  • T.N. Prohibition of Smoking and Spitting Act, 2002 : Sections 4, 5, 8 r/w Section 2(h) r/w Sections 9(1), 12
  • W.B. of Smoking & Spitting and Protection of Health of Non-smokers and Minors Act, 2001 : Sections 5, 6, 10 r/w Section 2(8) r/w Sections 11(1), 14

Below is an awareness video by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare highlighting the dangers that is lead towards on spitting in public spaces in view of the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Following are the points that have been featured in the video:

  • Spitting in public spaces is in itself “PROHIBITED” and the same stand can be maintained various Central and State Rules and Regulations as underlined above.
  • Spitting in public places increased the dangers of COVID-19.
  • To contain the outbreak of COVID-19, cleanliness of circumambient should be looked after
  • Spitting in public places and open surfaces adds to the danger and outbreak of COVID19.

Please follow the link to have a look at the video:

Video

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Karnataka High Court alongwith all the District Judiciary, Family Courts, Labour Courts and Industrial Tribunals in the State shall be closed till 6th June, 2020 for the purpose of Section 4 of Limitation Act, 1963.

Access the Notification here:

NOTIFICATION 1

NOTIFICATION 2


Karnataka High Court

[Notification dt. 15-05-2020]