SC slams Odisha, Andhra over migrant workers’ plight

New Delhi, Sep 18 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday slammed Odisha and Andhra Pradesh for their near inaction on improving the pathetic condition of migrant workers, who, it observed, were being treated like “dirt”.

Apparently unhappy over the plight of migrant workers, particularly those engaged in the brick kiln industry, the social justice bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit said: “It is a terrible state of affairs. Either the measures taken are inadequate or they are not yielding results.”

The court gave both the state governments four weeks to file affidavits spelling out short-term and long-term steps taken by them to improve the conditions of migrant workers, particularly those in the brick-kiln industry.

Telling the two state governments to take the issue of the migrant workers “seriously” or it would take their “inaction” seriously, the bench said: “People are being treated like dirt. Please don’t treat people like this. Take this issue seriously or we will take your inaction seriously.”

The court’s stinging observation came in the course of a hearing of a suo motu cognizance of the news report on the chopping of the hands of two migrant labourers who were subjected to the barbaric act for their refusal to comply with the contractor’s wishes.

The matter relates to January 2014 when the apex court bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam (since retired) and Justice Ranjan Gogoi took suo motu cognizance of news reports and issued notice to Odisha and Andhra Pradseh.

In the case, an Andhra-based labour contractor and his four henchmen allegedly chopped off the hands of the two migrant workers in December 2013 after they refused to work in a brick kiln in Chhattisgarh.

The court in the earlier hearing asked Odisha and Andhra Pradesh to inform it about steps taken by them to prevent recurrence of such incidents involving the migrant labourers, including complaints that were filed against those found violating the statutory provisions.

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