Taking note of the hardships being faced by migrant labourers amid the lockdown, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has asked the Maharashtra government to make all necessary arrangements for them, and also consider taking funds from charitable organisations.
A single bench of Justice Sunil Shukre on Monday heard a petition filed by one C H Sharma, raising concerns over the spread of coronavirus on account of the movement of thousands of labourers and their families from cities to rural areas, both within and outside the state.
The court while considering the issue said such large-scale movement of labourers increases the danger of further spread of coronavirus, and noted that these people are in need of assistance from the state government.
“This is apart from the unfathomable hardships the labourers are going through owing to stoppage of their income. In these circumstances, what looks sensible is to provide clothing, medicine and health care and throwing generally an umbrella of protection around these labourers,” the court said in its order.
“This court would, therefore, direct the State of Maharashtra to make arrangement for stay, food, sanitation clothing and health care for the labourers, including migrant labourers,” it said.
The bench said it was conscious of the fact that to provide these facilities, funds would be required.
It suggested the state to call upon charitable institutions to contribute some money.
“I can only suggest that one of the ways of mobilising the funds could be through implementing the provisions contained in and powers conferred upon the charity commissioner and state government under the Maharashtra Public Trusts Act and the Waqf Act,” the judge said.
“All charitable institutions registered under the Public Trusts Act or the Waqf Act could be called upon to discharge their responsibility to utilise money for public and charitable purposes in certain percentage to be determined by the state government,” the court said.
It asked the state government to take appropriate decision in the matter consistent with the charitable object espoused by the Public Trusts Act and the Waqf Act.
The court posted the matter for further hearing on April 8.