Supreme Court’s suo motu cognisance of Migrant Workers’ plight

On May 26, 2020, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court took suo motu cognisance of migrant workers issue and noted that there have been “inadequacies and certain lapses” on the part of the Central and State governments in dealing with the migrant workers crisis during the lockdown.

What is suo moto cognisance?

  • Suo motu is a latin phrase which means “on its own”.
  • This means that the court has taken the matter into cognisance on its own and without any plaintiff.
  • A plaintiff is a person or entity which files a case or petition in the court.
  • Normal court cases need a plaintiff and a defendant, while in suo moto, there is no plaintiff.
  • In the current matter, the court has taken suo motu cognisance on the basis of newspaper and media reports on helpless migrants forced to travel thousands of miles on foot or cycles.

Supreme Court Directions

  • The three judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan has ordered the centre and states to immediately provide transport, food and shelter free of cost to the stranded migrant workers.
  • The court has also asked Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta to inform the court by May 28, 2020 about the measures taken by the Centre to alleviate the migrants’ sufferings.

What is next?
The court has issued formal notice to the centre, states and Union Territories to file their responses by May 28.

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