The Supreme Court, while hearing a petition related to making safe transport arrangements for migrant workers "irrespective of their caste, creed and religion", allowed the lawyer and petitioner in the case to pay Rs. 25 lakh so that individuals from Uttar Pradesh who are stranded in Mumbai can return home.
A fortnight ago, Mumbai High Court advocate, Sagheer Ahmed Khan, had requested that the court direct the central and state governments to make safe travel arrangements so migrants stranded here can return to UP districts of Basti and Sant Kabir Nagar, which is also his home town. Mr Khan had also offered to deposit Rs. 25 lakh towards this.
Today, during the course of the hearing, the court asked Khan, "Are you ready to pay?" to which, the lawyer replied in the affirmative. The court then directed Khan to deposit the money with the SC Registry.
"Payment has to be made within a week's time in SC Registry as petitioner was apprehensive to pay in PM CARES Fund. The money should be used for transporting migrants to UP," the court said posting the case for hearing on June 12.
Mr Khan had explained to NDTV that opacity on the use of the fund was a deterrent for him to contribute to it. "I am willing to deposit the sum in this Honorable court because I have full faith in the Supreme Court but I don't have much trust in the state government," he said.
Asked if the court's directive can be used by other Good Samaritans trying to help those in distress, Mr Khan said that he had offered to pay and that he has not been directed by the Supreme Court, so the case does not set a precedent.
Explaining what prompted him to approach the court for making the contribution to help migrants, Mr Khan said that when the lockdown was extended after May 4, a lot of migrants were calling him for help.
"I contacted the state and central governments; I called the nodal officer of the UP government to know what should be done, but got no reply. There was also a dispute between state governments about who will bear the 15 per cent cost of the tickets. On May 9, I wrote to the UP nodal officer and chief minister offering that I am ready to deposit up to Rs. 25 lakh towards the cost of the tickets...But ridiculous replies were given. When I tried to compact the police station in Mumbai for registration... they asked me to submit two individual photographs of each migrant (during lockdown)...So, I decided to go to the Supreme Court. I filed a petition on May 13 and it came up on May 15."