The Supreme Court told the government on Friday that it expected all stranded migrants will be sent home free of cost by the June 24 deadline set by it.
Organisations helping migrants have complained to the court over the alleged lack of publicity about the schedule of Shramik Special trains, which were launched in May to ferry migrant workers home. Also, there were allegations that migrants had to pay for their journey home.
“We issued appropriate directions to all states (on June 9). All migrant workers have to be transported in 15 days,” the bench of justices Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul and MR Shah said, reiterating its order through video conferencing.
“Our order (of June 9) is very clear that no migrant worker has to pay for the ticket. Whether Centre pays or states, we are not concerned,” the bench said.
Senior advocate Gopal Shankaranaraynan, who appeared for the National Law Universities Alumni Association, told the court that members of his group were helping migrants stuck in Maharashtra to reach their destinations in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. He alleged that there was lack of information on the trains.
Shankaranaraynan complained to the court that migrants were being asked to pay for tickets. He added that states were lacking funds, and the Centre must step in.
Solicitor general Tushar Mehta said the Centre will make available trains within 24 hours of receiving a request. On tickets, he wondered how Shankaranaraynan could say states were lacking funds.
The court posted the matter on July 8 to monitor implementation of its directions.
States and Union territories received a time-bound mandate on June 9 from the Supreme Court to ensure the return of all migrant workers stranded by the post-coronavirus lockdown to their home states within a fortnight and to inform the apex court within the same deadline about welfare programmes, including job opportunities, they plan to offer the returnees.
The court also asked states and Union territories to identify migrant workers who have returned at the district and block levels and prepare an inventory of the vocational skills they possess and their employment history.