Home Secretary To Supreme Court, Migrants "Taken To Nearest Available Shelter"
New Delhi:The central government told the Supreme Court on a petition asking for relief for thousands desperate to reach home after being left without jobs or shelter because of the coronavirus lockdown.
There are no migrant workers on roads "as of 11 am today", Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Supreme Court."The Home Secretary is saying that as of 11 am this morning, nobody is on the road. They have been taken to the nearest available shelter".
The Supreme Court is hearing a petition looking for directions to provide food and shelter to migrant workers who are left helpless after a 21-day countrywide lockdown was imposed across the country to fight against the spread of coronavirus or COVID-19.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day-lockdown countrywide to halt the spread of the highly contagious virus, but soon after few days, a steady stream of migrant labourers can be seen, making their way to their villages on foot, as public transport was shut amid lockdown. They were forced to crowd and be at state borders which were straight against social distancing rules as they were stopped by policemen from entering.
Chief Justice of India SA Bobde asked the government to set up an expert committee within 24 hours. Meanwhile, the centre complained that in its efforts to get against coronavirus, "fake news" was the biggest challenge.
"India has taken preemptive and proactive steps. Preparations started on January 17. So far, we have been able to contain the spread of the virus much to our satisfaction. We took steps much ahead of what many other countries did," said the Solicitor General, adding that in India, compared to other countries, the spread of the virus was less.
The Chief Justice of India asked the centre to ensure press briefings so that wrong or incomplete information regarding the virus can be stopped and only correct information could go out.
Justice L Nageswara Rao said, "Take steps for prevention of misinformation through social media too, including Facebook, Twitter, TikTok".
The court also questioned why criminal action couldn't be taken against those spreading fake news on coronavirus pandemic.
"You told us about fake news and how you will control it. Do you have any powers under any act by which you can punish people for spreading fake news? Why don't you take action against people if you are so concerned about fake news," asked the Chief Justice.