JUSTICE TO MIGRANTS IN PANDEMIC ERA

The outbreak of covid-19 not only affected the health of people but also their whole life. Recovering from corona virus does not mean recovering from its impact; this is the situation where the need of justice arises.

From the first day of covid- 19 broke out people are struggling, especially the migrant workers and refugees. This unusual situation brought to light the real mentality and hidden social inequalities. They were working hard and struggles a lot to make ends meet. But they were not recognized and no one consider them in this busy world not even the government or the law. Voice for their justice is muted.

RIGHTS OF MIGRANT WORKERS

India does not have on its statute book a specific and separate law to govern refugees. In the truancy of such a specific law, all existing Indian laws like the criminal procedure code, The India penal code, The Evidence act etc. apply to the refugees as well.[1]The Geneva Convention related to the status of refugees is the main source of legal protection for refugees. India has a Refugee Policy which explains about the refugees.

In the case of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, they cross the sea to enter the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The government of India followed a specific refugee policy regarding Sri Lankan refugees and permitted them entry despite the fact that the refugees did not have travel documents.[2]

The major reason behind the migration is economic and employment opportunities, the International Labor Organization have exposed specific conventions to protect migrants for employment. Labors mentioned in the concurrent list in the seventh schedule of Constitution of India, 1950.therefore both the central and state government have the right to make laws relating to migrant workers.[3]Even though all these laws and policies are there for refugees and migrant workers, all these fail to address the economic and social issues that raise in the covid -19 crises.

In the starting of covid-19 the most affected and vulnerable in India includes migrant workers, daily wage workers and refugees. The way the government handle the situation was awful, it leads to lot of criticisms. The plight of refugees gained attention only when thousands of them started walking across the country to their homes when they lose their employment. As many 8733 people, most of them were migrant workers killed on railway tracks, 805 were injured between January 2020 and December 2020.however, the authority categories these accidents as consequential accidents and trespassing and untoward incidents rather than railway accidents. Labor ministry data quoted that “more than 1.06 crore migrant workers including those who travelled on foot during the lockdown, returned to their home state” .The data from Save Life Foundation revealed that, the phase 3 of the lockdown, which was extended from May 4 –May 17 resulted in the death of 118 migrant workers, almost 60% of all migrant workers death during lockdown.

The ministry of Labor and employment did not have any data of migrant workers who lost their jobs and their lives during the covid – 19 lockdown. Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar told the parliament that “no such data is maintained” in response some questions aroused. Activists and academics tracking the non – covid-19 deaths reported  over 900 people had died due to lockdown related reasons such as starvation,[4] suicide and road accidents while walking long distance to their home. It was the responsibility of the government to facilitate their needs but they ignored them awfully.

INVOLVEMENT OF JUDICIARY

On May 2020 The Madras high court directs centre to disclose number of migrant laborers who died on the way to their home states, justice N. Kirubakaran and R. Hemalatha also wanted to know about the nature f assistance provided by the government to them.[5]The details were called while passing interim orders on writ of habeas corpus petition filed by advocate A.P Suryaprakasam for rescuing about 400 Tamil Labors reportedly detained illegally by their employer in Kupawad  in single district in Maharashtra. The division bench suo motu included the centre as well as the Tamil government as respondents to the case. The court mentioned that ‘it is not only the duty of the native state but also the duty of states where migrant laborers work to take care of their safety and well being. India is a welfare country and article 21 of the constitution is paramount. It is pity to see migrant labors walk for days together and in the process lose lives”

In suo motu case[6] concerning the covid-19 migrant crises, the Supreme Court stated that it will direct the authorities to set up community kitchens for migrant workers and ensure reasonable transport fares for those laborers looking to travel back.

The ‘Right to Work’ is the so essential element to live, to authorize the fulfillment of the basic need for food, water, clothing and shelter and also something more than just the basic requirements of life one must work to earn. These migrant workers and refugees are denied of this; they lost their job and were forced to leave the place. After the occurrence of tragic incidents, the Central and State Government took various measures to help them and later arranged transport for them, 198 migrant workers died due to the lockdown with reasons road accidents.

NEGLECTED TEARS      

“The rich will get the help, getting rescued and brought home in planes from abroad. But we poor migrant laborers have been left to fend for ourselves, that is the worth of our lives”

A weeping migrant workers stuck in Delhi, who could not see his dying son in Bihar.

No matter what happened, the common people are still urging for justice .They lose their livelihood, they got affected with diseases, they starve for food, they work hard in the past for their lives but today they are begging for that life. Article 21 of India Constitution, 1950 provides ‘protection of live and personal liberty’ this is one of the most important fundamental rights and the protector of human life but unfortunately this right was not able to fight for the refugees and migrant workers. Government ignored them, there justice denied there struggle for life ended pathetically .Government and judiciary was responsible to provide justice for them but they are bowing their heads down before the tragedy.

CONCLUSION

Covid -19 is one f the most captivating aspects of human life, it affected us in every manner. Lots of people lost their job; many got affected with corona virus, affected with financial constraints so many people even succumbed to death. In this pathetic situation everyone is looking up for Justice. Constitution is the soul of the nation, it provides a strength to the people so, they hope that a helping hand will come to them. But the question is whether they are getting the justice or not.

Workers mostly refugees and migrant workers struggled a lot during this pandemic, we ignored their needs. No justice was given to them. The government and even the judiciary was blind to see their struggles, even now they are struggling for justice. The major problem behind this injustice is lack of laws in favorable them, to protect their needs and to tackle their problems we need to implement some policies and laws for them. They have the right to live so it is the responsibility of the government to protect them, they should get the justice they deserve.

JUSTICE is not just a word it is the heart of a nation, when it is violated everything ends. Our constitution is the protector of the justice, it should not be denied to those who deserve it. This covid-19 is giving serious struggles for the nation but we can face it together.

THE MORAL ARC OF THE UNVERSE IS LONG, BUT IT BENDS TOWARD JUSTICE.

-MARTIN LUTHER KING. JR.


[1]http://www.wrldlii.org/int/journals/ISILYBIHRL/2001/7.html.                                                                                              

[2]http://www.indiabarassociation.org/indias-refugees-policy/

[3]https://www.barandbench.com/news/litigation/covid-19-sureme-court-community-kitchens-tansport-for-migration-7285358//

[4]http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/govt-has-no-data-of-migrant-workers-death-loss-of-job/article326006377.ece

[5] https://www.hehindu.com/news/nationa/taml-nadu/madras-high-court-irects-centre-to disclose-number-of-migrant-labourers-who-died-on-the-way-to-their-home-states/aricle31600772.ece

[6] https://indiankanoon.org/dc/119863050/

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING IN THE SAME, DO LET ME KNOW.

Do follow me on FacebookTwitter  Youtube and Instagram.

The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at secondinnings.hr@gmail.com

In the year 2021, we wrote about 1000 Inspirational Women In India, in the year 2022, we would be featuring 5000 Start Up Stories.


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