The Supreme Court on Friday stayed an order by the Orissa High Court that had asked that “all migrants” entering the state should test negative for COVID-19.
A three judge bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul, and B R Gavai passed an order, which further clarified that the “stranded migrants shall be dealt with as per the order/guidelines of the Government of India dated 29.04.2020 read with the guidelines dated 01.05.2020 issued there under by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).”
The SC Bench referred to an order issued Thursday by a two judge bench of the Orissa High Court, which had stated: state government should ensure that all the migrants who are in queue to come to Odisha should be tested negative of COVID-19 before boarding the conveyance.
Following the high court order, five trains, carrying migrant workers that were reported to leave on Friday from Surat to Odisha, were cancelled, putting in limbo the people who had packed their bags for the journey back home, after the lockdown severed income and transport links.
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Odisha Law Minister Pratap Jena on Friday said to journalists, “We have not received the order”. However, signalling that the state government was well prepared to receive its migrant population, he added, “A lot of migrant Odias have registered and many have arrived. We are ready to take care of them for which we have 14,000 temporary medical camps (TMCs) and five lakh beds (across the state)”.
The SC bench on Friday stated that “We are of the view that the order of the Government of India dated 29.04.2020 provides ample protection. It appears that before the High Court the order of the Government of India dated 29.04.2020 and the guidelines were neither brought into the notice nor were under challenge.
The Home Ministry’s directions, as cited in the court order, stated that “moving person(s) would be screened and those found asymptomatic would be allowed to proceed. Buses shall be used for transport of groups of persons. The bushes will be sanitized and shall follow safe social distancing norms in seating.
“The States/UTs falling on the transit route will allow the passage of such persons to the receiving State/UT. f. On arrival at their destination, such person(s) would be assessed by the local health authorities, and kept in home quarantine, unless the assessment requires keeping the person(s) in institutional quarantine. They would be kept under watch with periodic health check-ups. For this purpose, such persons may be encourages to use Aarogya Setu app through which their health status can be monitored and tracked”, the order said of the MHA directions.
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