On a day when the Supreme Court refused to pass any orders on treatment of migrant labourers, the Karnataka High Court has ordered the state government to come up with a "rational policy" on facilitating travel for the migrant workers.
The court also directed the state to place on record by the next hearing, which is on May 12, the manner in which the state will arrange for operation of special trains for migrant workers.
A special bench was hearing a writ petition filed by the All India Centre Council of Trade Unions(AICCTU) questioning the government's rationale to cancel trains that were meant to ferry migrant labourers back to their homes.
The state government, later revoked its order, allowing for trains to ply from Friday onwards.
The court however, noted that it was the responsibility of the state to ensure that rights of migrant workers as read under Article 19 and Article 14 of the Indian Constitution are met. It also stated that the state should make migrants aware of the existence of such a policy put in place for their benefit.
The court pointed out how several workers had lost their lives while walking on roads or railway tracks across the country to reach their native states.
"The consequences of migrants being compelled to walk up to their respective home States are well known and in fact, it cannot be disputed that many such migrants have lost their lives because of the accidents on the roads and on railway tracks..."
The court also directed the state to check whether some workers are stuck in any parts of the state or being forced to stay back when they wish to leave for their native places.
"We make it clear that the policy of the State Government should take care of all categories of migrant workers irrespective of the fact whether they are in their own shelters or in shelters provided by their employers or shelters provided by the State or whether they are on streets," the order said.
"If there are complaints received by the State that some contractors or employers are confining the migrant workers to their shelters and are not permitting them to go to their respective home States, the State Government will have to attend to such complaints and will have to ensure that the migrants are not harassed in this fashion," the court added.