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The Bombay High Court on Tuesday said the migrants' issue was not handled properly in West Bengal amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and the government there at one point of time even refused to permit labourers from other parts of the country to return to their homes.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Anuja Prabhudessai made the observation while hearing a petition filed by Centre of Indian Trade Unions, a Mumbai-based trade union body, raising concerns over the plight of migrant workers stranded in Maharashtra in the wake of the coronavirus-induced lockdown. According to the petitioner, the process laid down by the Maharashtra government wherein migrant workers have to register themselves to travel by 'Shramik Special' trains to their native states was cumbersome and should be simplified.

The government a month ago told the court that by and by there are no requests for 'Shramik Special' trains. Senior guidance Gayatri Singh, showing up for the applicant, on Tuesday told the court that the legislatures accommodation that there are no abandoned vagrants who want to return to their local states was "erroneous". 

"The applicant has in contact with a few such vagrant workers and has discovered that there are somewhere in the range of 56,000 workers who despite everything need to venture out back to their local states, Singh stated, including huge numbers of these workers are from West Bengal. 

The court, be that as it may, asked how might it acknowledge this. "Do you know the circumstance in West Bengal? The legislature there at one point didn't allow vagrant workers to return...we don't have any desire to state anything against anybody yet the circumstance there was not taken care of appropriately, Chief Justice Datta said.

He also gave an example of 30 labourers stranded in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra who had arranged a bus on
their own and travelled to West Bengal a few months back. "Each and every migrant labourer is not banking upon
the state government. Many are making their own arrangements to travel back to their native states," the court said.

Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, appearing for the Maharashtra government, on Tuesday told the court that a
similar matter pertaining to the issue of migrant workers was pending before the Supreme Court. The high court, after perusing the order passed by SC on July 9, noted that it was specific to Maharashtra.
"The Supreme Court, in its order dated July 9, 2020, expressed its displeasure at the state governments reluctance
to find out if there are migrants stranded in Maharashtra and were ready to leave for their native states. The apex court sought Maharashtra governments response and has listed the matter for further hearing on July 17, the high court said.

In view of this, the bench posted the petition for hearing in the first week of August.
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