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
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
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
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
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
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
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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