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Bombay HC seeks details of steps taken for counselling stranded migrants

Govt assures sufficient protection to doctors, health workers facing threats.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai | April 16, 2020 8:25:51 pm
bombay high court, stranded migrants, mumbai corona virus cases, india lockdown, covid-19, india news, indian express The government assured the bench sufficient security to doctors, nurses and health workers on COVID-19 duty, who are being threatened with physical assault and abused for refusing to leave their residential areas. (File)

The Bombay High Court’s Aurangabad bench has directed the Maharashtra Government to instruct district collectors from Marathwada and North Maharashtra region to prepare and produce details within two weeks on the total number of stranded migrant workers, shelter homes and efforts taken for their psychological counselling to prevent any extreme step or trauma.

A single judge bench of Justice Ravindra V Ghuge made these directions through a video-conference hearing on April 15 in a suo motu public interest litigation (PIL) while it took cognisance of various media reports on the problems faced by migrant and health workers, among others.

The government assured the bench sufficient security to doctors, nurses and health workers on COVID-19 duty, who are being threatened with physical assault and abused for refusing to leave their residential areas.

Advocate Amol Joshi, who was appointed as amicus curie by the court on Wednesday, sought directions from the bench to district collectors in Marathwada region, which come under the purview of Aurangabad bench, to respond on various measures being taken for migrant workers in view of the extended nationwide lockdown.

Joshi also sought from the district collectors data on the number of migrant workers stranded in these districts and whether any shelter homes have been made available to them.

While representing the migrant workers, Joshi also sought to know whether any efforts have been made to provide psychological counselling to those stranded. It is to ensure that they are not driven to take any extreme step or suffer from any psychological trauma, Joshi submitted.

Justice Ghuge directed government pleader D R Kale to ask the district collectors to prepare a report on the same within two weeks.

Moreover, the court also took suo motu cognisance of instances against doctors, who are now being allowed to hold screenings and have been threatened to leave their houses by their residential colonies.

Referring to news reports, the bench noted that doctors and paramedical staff, who are deeply involved in conducting tests and providing treatment to suspected COVID-19 patients, are facing threats from inmates of their residential colonies.

“The extent of such threats are that the residents want such doctors, medical and paramedical staff to leave the said residential localities as the other residents fear that these doctors, medical and paramedical staff would carry the virus and transmit such infection to such residents of the localities,” Justice Ghuge observed.

The court also noted that the health workers have also been abused and threatened with physical assault if they did not leave.

To this, government lawyer D R Kale informed the bench that the local district administrations are ensuring adequate protection for health workers and he would instruct them to ensure more security, so that the doctors and medical staff are not subjected to any threats or demands to vacate their residential premises.

While dealing with the same plea on April 8, the high court had said that while it expects effective measures from the state government for migrants and health workers, the citizens, who are always protective about their fundamental rights, also need to remind themselves and discharge their fundamental duties to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood.

The court is likely to take up further hearing on the plea on May 4 after the lockdown.

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