Responding to the Supreme Court’s direction to submit a status report on steps taken regarding the plight of migrant workers, the Centre on Tuesday submitted a detailed status report citing that all migrants have been shifted to the nearest available shelters as they pose a risk of spreading the coronavirus if they return home.
The Supreme Court bench comprising of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justice LN Rao directed the Centre to ensure accessibility of basic necessities and medical facilities for migrant workers and to set up a high-level committee of experts to ensure that the awareness of COVID-19 is widespread and factual amongst citizens.
While Solicitor General Tushar Mehta stated that fake news and misinformation were primarily responsible for creating panic among people, the CJI observed that ‘Panic will destroy more lives that the spread of coronavirus itself’, and directed the Centre to take criminal action against all those spreading the misinformation on Coronavirus.
Further, the apex court ordered for a web portal to be set up within 24 hours to disseminate information regarding Coronavirus to the general public. The court also accepted the recommendation of Solicitor General to allow religious and community leaders to speak to the migrants so as to avoid panic.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta also pointed out that the Centre’s approach has been extremely pro-active and pre-emptive in curbing the outbreak. He submitted that the rural population is largely unaffected by the virus, however, there is a high possibility that out of 10 people 3 might be virus carriers moving from cities to villages.
Subsequently, CJI SA Bobde pointed out that there was an extreme need to ensure safety, awareness, and strength of the citizens of India, at this time of crisis.
The next hearing of the matter has been scheduled for 7 April.