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Supreme Court And Covid’19: Staying Silent Is Not An Option

How can we stop migrants from working one of the judges on the bench commented as the Supreme Court on May 15 2020, declined to entertain an application to identify impotent migrant workers, take care of their needs and provide free transport to them. As a budding lawyer, the question seemed quite uncourageous on the face of Supreme Court being the apex chamber of our country. India is suffering because it chose staginess over governance in dealing with the global pandemic.

Closely examining the seriousness of the current situation, we see the country tussling in various aspects but the most horrifying aspect is that of the migrant workers in India. The Supreme Court which is supposed to protect the rights of the citizens have failed to do so.

This not only questions the various tyres of the judicial system but it jogs one's attention directly to the search engine of the Indian Constitution. Dr B R Ambedkar considered Article 32 as one of the most important institutional provisions- which allows the citizens to approach the Supreme Court against violation of their fundamental rights. But now the judges are missing upon this fact.

History of the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court serves both as the final court of appeals and the final interpreter of the Constitution. It is often regarded as the most progressive judicial bodies across the globe. Even though the entire country is in lockdown, judgements have been delivered in a total of 325 cases which include 268 connected matters. The quick adaption to the new virtual system is applauded by each law-abiding citizen of India.

The Puttaswamy judgement which Made right to privacy a fundamental right. Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India which decriminalised homosexuality. In the light of the above, it can be said that the Supreme Court over these years has largely governed by its endeavour to ensure that the justice is done. The court has stood by its name but this did not happen overnight. After receiving a lot of criticism from the infamous ADM Jabalpur judgement. The Supreme Court has restored the faith of the people and has made them realised that the honest parties are not the ultimate sufferers and that the guilty are ultimately punished.

The fate of the petitions: Delayed and then dropped
The problem of migrant workers might not be unique to India, but some frightening incidents have shone a spotlight the plight of millions of poor Indians- and how the lockdown has stranded them far away from home. We wake up every day to several disheartening pictures where the migrant workers are sleeping on roads and seem depressed. Over 120 of them have dies along their way.

While the centre set up a massive mission titled ‘ Vande Bharat' to bring back the Indians marooned overseas. But it has not shown the same enthusiasm towards the migrant workers. Instead, it added more pressure and blame on the states.

In another writ petition which sought directions to help migrants get home, the Supreme Court initially called on the Centre to explain the steps it was taking for allowing movement of migrant workers to their hometowns. In the subsequent hearing, despite the petitioners throwing light on how the migrants were being forced to pay for their tickets still, the government's law officer having no response on who was bearing the travel fate, the court disposed of the Petition on the ground that its jurisdiction was limited under Article 32 and that the main relief sought for had been considerably fulfilled.

How can questions with such a heartfelt effect on the delivery of justice be summarily dismissed as an internal matter? It is the constitutional right of every citizen to approach the courts especially the Supreme Court to enforce their rights. Therefore, it cannot be claimed that citizens do not have the right to know how decisions that affect justice are made.

A lesson from the past
During the 1975-77 emergency, approximately 1,00,000 people were detained under the detention law.10 The high courts said that even when emergency rights were suspended, habeas corpus appeals were filed before the courts. and they repealed several orders for banned detention. It is regrettable that the Supreme Court bench reversed those decisions and stated that in an emergency even their applications for Habeas Corpus cannot be tolerated. Justice Khanna gave his famous dissent, though that led to his reinstatement as Chief Justice otherwise guaranteed him a permanent place in the history of justice.

He reminded the court in the honor of Lord Atkins' famous defence of the same issue that emerged in England during World War II, in Liversidge v Anderson, that they "acknowledge the conflict of arms that the rules are inflexible" and that the court's action may approve. in an emergency, anvil should be tested for constitutional and human rights.

The odd conduct of the Supreme Court during the crisis was profoundly baffling. The sort of giving up of the Supreme Court that we are encountering today because of the COVID-19 emergency (even without an affirmation of crisis) is maybe considerably progressively genuine when the court isn't set up to address practically whatever the administration has done or not done regardless of the grave encroachment of central rights that have followed.

High Courts dip a toe in
With the Centre abdicating responsibilities, the state governments were left within the lurch. Various High Courts have considered the seriousness of this issue and stood up to require all the responsibilities. The migrant worker crises were marked by empathy for his or her plight. Last month, the Himachal Pradesh High Court ordered the state government to file an action taken report on the steps taken to address the challenges being faced by migrant labourers. This order referred to an order passed by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in March, directing the UT administrations of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to ensure that:
accommodation, healthcare and the needs of the migrant labourers, if not already provided for, are addressed.

The Karnataka judicature on May 12 ordered the governments to make your mind up on paying the transportation cost of the workers going back to their villages and city. province judicature while hearing a PIL said that ignoring the plight of the migrant workers will amount to the disrepair of duty and that we should act as a protector of the poor. Gujarat judicature has taken suo moto cognizance since many of them are dying of hunger.

The Delhi judicature directed the Arvind Kejriwal government to make sure that there is an uninterrupted working of the helpline numbers founded to enable the return of migrant workers to their native place. In light of those shortcomings, various judicature directed the govt. to form awareness about the trains plying, to produce assurance and a schedule to the migrants who had registered to travel back to their home.

India is experiencing the worst large scale pandemic and that we don't have any reliable data to inform us when the pandemic will end. The lockdown was necessary and nobody is blamed for the identical. But as a democratic country, we should always raise our concern regarding the recent wireless silence attitude of the Supreme Court.

Corona may be a rousing demand for all Indian Courts especially the Supreme Court. It's a golden opportunity for the judiciary to persuade the hearts of the people by taking proactive steps. in step with the Supreme Court lawyer Dushyant Dave:
I do believe that the judiciary's prime responsibility is adjudication, which is becoming longer, and so, more painful. The judiciary should target adjudication and not stray into the chief or legislative field.

The Supreme Court, incorrectly presenting itself as having to decide on between complete restraint or absorbing the Executive's role, is falling far wanting the expectations that not only the Constituent Assembly but every citizen had from it. If the judiciary's conscience is dead the lawyers must awaken the conscience.

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