Directive to States, ‘stop migrants walking on Roads or Rly. Tracks’ highly unconstitutional

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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Jammu, 13th May 2020 : “A new trend has emerged in India when Home Secretary issues directions, dictates laws and even amendments in the Indian Constitution violating basic Fundamental Rights of the citizens. The MHA’s order dated 11th May, 2020. The centre (MHA) has asked States to ensure that the labourers don’t hit roads or rail tracks to reach their homes. The States have been asked to counsel those walking on the roads and put them in shelters. In another order, the Centre asked States not to restrict movement of doctors and other healthcare workers as it could jeopardize efforts to fight the Covid-19 outbreak”.

Earlier also dated 15th April, 2020, the Home Secretary issued an order which could be called as ordinance on 14th April, 2020 introducing amendment in the Indian Penal Code amending the Code by using under the pretext of Disaster Management Act 2005 in his capacity as Chairperson of National Executive Committee under Section 10 (2) (b) of the said Act.

Prof. Bhim Singh a Senior Advocate & Executive Chairman of State Legal Aid Committee has challenged the directive issued by MHA to the States directing them, “Ensure Migrants don’t walk on the roads/tracks”. Prof. Bhim Singh urged the President of India to issue appropriate direction to not to misuse power vested in the bureaucracy. It was only yesterday that, “Drawing the attention of States to a meeting held by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba to review the operation of buses and special trains for migrants, the MHA letter has said, in the meeting, the situation of migrant workers walking on the road and on railway tracks was noted with great concern”. The directive issued by the Cabinet Secretary is alarming and amounts to challenging the very sanctity of the Fundamental Rights of the citizens including freedom of movement, walking etc. This is unfortunate that a Home Secretary/Cabinet Secretary has exercised powers which he does not enjoy or hold under the Constitution of India.

Justice Srikrishna, former Judge of the Supreme Court of India had warned the Executive that making a law like that of controlling right of movement is highly unconstitutional.

Prof. Bhim Singh
Prof. Bhim Singh

Justice Srikrishna commenting on the first draft of the Personal Data Protection Bill, termed the government’s push mandating the use of Aarogya Setu App “utterly illegal”. He questioned as to “Under what law do you mandate it on anyone? So far it is not backed by any law”. This was the latest development when a former Judge of the Supreme Court could react that strong.

Prof. Bhim Singh has urged the President of India, who is Constitutional Head of the State also to appoint a Committee under some experienced legal luminary like Attorney-General of India, Mr. K.K. Venugopal to guide the bureaucracy in the centre to deal with legal issues particularly those which come under the scope of Fundamental Rights in the Constitution of India so that the unguided bureaucracy shall work in accordance with the rule of law and within the meaning and scope of the Fundamental Rights enshrined in the Constitution of India.

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