HC tells Karnataka to ensure transport of farm produce and inputs to farmers

South India

The issues brought before the court by the People's Union of Civil Liberty were heard by a division bench through video conferencing. 

The Karnataka High Court on Friday issued a set new directions on religious congregations, animal welfare, stranded migrant workers and rural distress impacted by the country-wide lockdown declared by the central government to contain coronavirus spread.

On the issue of rural distress, a Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice BV Nagarathna directed the state government to ensure smooth operation of farming activities and transportation of produces from farms to markets. In case transportation was not feasible, the state government must make arrangements for procurement of farm produces from farmers’ door-step, the bench said.

 “The state government will have to ensure that fertilizer, pesticides, seeds and agricultural inputs as well as repair services are available to farmers by allowing shops and establishments in this field to run their operations as per orders of the Ministry of Home Affairs,” it said.

The direction came on an application filed by the PUCL civil rights organisation saying that due to non-availability of transport facilities, farmers have been forced to destroy their produces. The forum also contended that there was hindrance to the movement of produce from the police.

On the issue of feeding stray animals and functioning of pet shops highlighted through another application filed by PUCL, the Court directed the state government to consider whether the pet shops should be permitted to be kept open so that food and medicines are made available to the pet animals.

While passing the above direction, the Court remarked that it shall be appropriate for the NGOs to feed the stray animals in the meanwhile.

When the issue of migrants was taken up, Additional Advocate General Dhyan Chinnappa tendered a chart providing district-wise details of the active relief camps and shelters, number of persons housed in relief camps and shelters, number of food camps, and number of persons who are being provided food. The chart also gives details on the number of workers to whom shelter and food is provided by employers/industries where they are working, the Court observed.

On this aspect, the Court noted that three categories of migrant workers are being dealt with right now. The first category is of workers who have left their respective places of employment and are trying to reach their native places in the state or outside the state. The second category of migrants is of persons who are staying in rented accommodation. The third category is migrant workers who have been provided shelter by their respective employers.

Counsel appearing for PUCL stated that it has received complaints from approximately 10,718 migrant workers that they have not received ration during the lockdown. On this aspect, the Court has directed PUCL to submit a comprehensive list of said 10,718 migrant workers in order to enable the state to make necessary verification. The state has been directed to respond on this issue by April 9.

On the issue of the shelters being established for migrant workers in different parts of the state, a direction has been made to provide the Secretaries of the respective District Legal Services Authorities with a district-wise list of all these camps

The court directed the state to set out the measures taken for the implementation of the direction pertaining to complete ban on all religious congregations envisaged in the order of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs dated March 24 (with inputs from Bar &Bench).

Image Credit: New Indian Express

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