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    SC queries states on plans for employment of returned migrants

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    New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the state governments how they will ensure employment and other relief measures for migrants who have returned to native homes from their workplaces elsewhere in the country.

    A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M.R. Shah observed that state governments should be asked to complete the process of transportation of all migrants back to their home state within the period of 15 days. "All states will be asked to bring on record, how they will provide employment and other kinds of relief to the migrant workers who have returned home....registration of all migrants of all migrants should be made compulsory," it said.

    The bench also noted that it could ask the state governments to furnish complete data on migrant workers, from which city they returned, and also what kind of employment they get in their home state.

    It said it will provide pass directions for foolproof registration of migrant workers, who have returned.

    The apex court is likely to pronounce the order on the matter on Tuesday.

    "You (state governments) have to make a scheme for their employment, counselling should take place in every block/district," observed the bench.

    Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing an NGO, said most of the workers are illiterate, and it will be easier to get the data if the registration is decentralised and migrants are allowed to register in person.

    The slew of observations was made by the apex court after hearing many senior counsel, representing various state governments, apprised it on the development made by the particular state to address the migrant woes. The apex court had taken suo moto cognizance on the problems and difficulties faced by the migrant workers' and sought replies from the Centre and state governments.

    Few senior counsel cited deaths of migrant workers on the train, and sought reply from Centre's counsel. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, submitted that no deaths have taken place due to non-supply of water, food or medicine. "All deaths were due to pre-existing illness," he said, refuting negligence by railways and other authorities concerned.

    The Centre also requested the top court not to issue new norms on quarantine for asymptomatic persons. "Let the present system continue, and let us focus on getting all migrants back," Mehta contended.

    Senior advocate Jaideep Gupta, representing MP Mahua Moitra, sought to recall her petition raising the plight of the migrant workers'. To this, Justice Bhushan said: "She is a respectable MP, if allowed this, then this will become a chaotic situation..."

    Senior advocate Indira Jaising, representing an intervener, told the court that the registration procedure of migrants is not simple, as it is in English. She insisted that there should be nothing required except for basic information for registration - name, Aadhaar card number etc. The bench reiterated that all state governments must make their own arrangements, and emphasised all transportation of migrant workers should be completed within 15 days. "Each village should know how many people have come back," said Justice Bhushan.

    Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, assisting the court on the matter, said the absence of data on the total number of migrant labourers aggravates these calamities by leaving the administering agencies underprepared to deal with the challenges. "Data will undoubtedly assist the government in arriving at an effective methodology for addressing preparations made vis-a-vis transportation, food, medicines and other logistical issues affecting the migrant labourers," he said.

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