The Delhi High Court Tuesday refused to entertain a plea seeking direction to the AAP government to take all measures for the welfare of migrant labourers, including basic facilities, and steps against spreading of coronavirus among them.
The high court said the Supreme Court is seized of the issue.
A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad, which conducted the hearing through video conferencing, permitted the petitioner to withdraw the plea while reserving his right to approach the Supreme Court for placing certain points by filing an appropriate application in the pending matter.
"We see no reason to entertain the present petition when the Supreme Court is already seized of the matter on a pan India basis," the bench said and disposed of the petition.
On May 26, the top court had taken suo motu on the problems and measures of migrant labourers during the coronavirus pandemic and has sought responses of the Centre and all states and union territories.
The top court had said that no fare will be charged from any migrant workers for their travel either by train or bus and directed that they be provided "food free of cost" by the states and Union Territories where they are waiting for their turn to board train or bus after being stranded following the COVID-19 lockdown.
While passing a slew of interim directions "looking into the difficulties and miseries of migrant workers", the top court had directed that the states shall simplify and speed up the process of registration of migrant workers and provide help desk for registration at the places where they are stranded.
The high court was hearing a PIL which had also sought direction to the Delhi government to follow the guidelines issued by the Centre and the parameters of social distancing, health, hygiene to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The PIL filed by Manish Singh, who claims to be an activist, has alleged that the authorities have failed to set up a mechanism to ensure that thousands of migrant workers do not congregate at one particular centre and in the process the entire system of social distancing is set at nought.
It claimed that the authorities are herding the migrant labourers, who wish to go to their native place, like cattle and dropping them at various locations/ schools/ community centres as per their whims and fancies and in the process failing to provide them basic facilities for survival in the present heat wave condition.
The plea sought to direct the authorities to provide basic facilities, including food, proper shelter, toilets and drinking water, to migrant labourers who are stationed at various centres pursuant to their registration for travel and screening.
"These labourers, in the light of directions issued by the Government of India, from time to time, reach the nearest centre where they could get themselves registered so that they could be permitted to board the various trains going to their native places.
"However, upon reaching the designated centres, most of the labourers return empty handed and those who are successful are picked and dumped by the respondent (Delhi government) at schools, etc, where there are no basic facilities and no provision for food for these labourers," it claimed.
The petitioner said he has sent an email to the authorities regarding this in May but no action was taken.