K. Rama Krishna vs. Union of India

By Sonali

In the High court of Andhra Pradesh

Name of the caseK. Rama Krishna vs. Union of India  
CitationWrit Petition (PIL) No. 101 of 2020
Date of the case22 May, 2020
AppellantK. Rama Krishna
RespondentUnion of India
Bench / JudgeD.V.S.S. Somayajulu, Lalitha Kanneganti
Statutes / Constitution involvedConstitution of India , 1950Civil Procedure Code, 1908
Important Sections/ articlesConstitution of India, 1950 Article.14 Article.19 Article.21 Article.226 Civil procedure Code,1908 Section.151

Abstract

In the present case, the appellant /K. Rama Krishna filed public interest litigation. The litigation was filed in Andhra Pradesh High Court under article.226 of the constitution which deals with writ petition and section.151 of Civil Procedure Code; the labourers of Andhra Pradesh were not allowed to leave the city’s in which they were working as labourers/workers. These labourers decided to go to their native place or village in Andhra Pradesh. Due to Covid restrictions, they were going back to the home town on foot or by bicycle and they were not provided with any transportation facilities so the appellant urged the court to pass orders so that the necessary facilities should be given to these migrating labourers.

Introduction

During the time of Covid-19, many sections of the society suffered, one such section who suffered was of workers/ labourers as in 2020 the Covid-19 cases were on the rise and lockdown was being followed. The working opportunities were also not present at that time because of the ongoing lockdown so, the labourers who came from small villages to the cities to earn were forced to go back to their hometown but because of this lockdown and rising cases, the situation became more and more difficult. The judiciary had to come in between and resolve this condition.

 The writ was filed under section.151 of civil procedure code and article.226 of the Indian constitution for the relief. By filing petition under section.151, the aim is to focus the attention of the court towards a mistake and in case of article.226 of the Constitution the petition is filed under writ of MANDAMUS which is used to order any authority to carry out the public obligations given to them.

The labourers in this case were stranded in Vijayawada, Guntur and other parts of the state of Andhra Pradesh, due to lockdown. These labourers should be provided with every facility which is required for their travelling back to the home town.

Facts of the case

The crux of the case is as; the appellant filed a Public Interest Litigation under writ petition of mandamus in article.226 of the Constitution. The appellant pleads here that the workers who were working in the cities of Andhra Pradesh were suffering as due to Covid 19, there was no work and they were not able to move back to their hometowns.

These labourers started moving to their hometowns without any transportation and facilities. These workers were trekking towards their hometown with such hot weather without any food and water. This lack of facilities in turn violates their fundamental right enshrined under article 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution. These workers are also entitled to be tested for Covid-19 before moving toward their hometown as health is a part of fundamental rights.

Issue raised before the court

  1. Are the respondents, which include the Union of India and the State of Andhra Pradesh, legally allowed to deny migrant workers the right to return to their hometowns and villages after conducting necessary testing for COVID-19 and to arrange for their safe travel by providing necessary transportation?

Related provisions

  • Constitution of India, 1950

Ar.14: (Equality before law) – The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.[1]

Ar.19: (Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech etc) – (1) All citizens shall have the right- (a) to freedom of speech and expression;

(b) To assemble peaceably and without arms;

(c) To form associations or unions;

(d) To move freely throughout the territory of India;

(e) To reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and

(f) Omitted

(g) To practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

(2) Nothing in sub-clause (a) of clause (1) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.

(3) Nothing in sub-clause (b) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India or public order, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause.

(4) Nothing in sub-clause (c) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India or public order or morality, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause.

(5) Nothing in sub-clauses (d) and (e) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of any of the rights conferred by the said sub-clauses either in the interests of the general public or for the protection of the interests of any Scheduled Tribe.

(6) Nothing in sub-clause (g) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, in the interests of the general public, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause, and, in particular, nothing in the said sub-clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it relates to, or prevent the State from making any law relating to,- (i) the professional or technical qualifications necessary for practicing any profession or carrying on any occupation, trade or business, or

(ii) The carrying on by the state or by a corporation owned or controlled by the State, of any trade, business, industry or service, whether to the exclusion, complete or partial, of citizens or otherwise.[2]

Ar.21: (Protection of life and personal liberty) – No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.[3]

Ar.226: (Power of High Courts to issue certain writs)- (1) Notwithstanding anything in Article 32 every High Court shall have powers, throughout the territories in relation to which it exercise jurisdiction, to issue to any person or authority, including in appropriate cases, any Government, within those territories directions, orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibitions, quo warranto and certiorari, or any of them, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III and for any other purpose.

(2) The power conferred by clause (1) to issue directions, orders or writs to any Government, authority or person may also be exercised by any High Court exercising jurisdiction in relation to the territories within which the cause of action, wholly or in part, arises for the exercise of such power, notwithstanding that the seat of such Government or authority or the residence of such person is not within those territories.

(3) Where any party against whom an interim order, whether by way of injunction or stay or in any other manner, is made on, or in any proceedings relating to, a petition under clause (1), without- (a) furnishing to such party copies of such petition and all documents in support of the plea for such interim order; and

(b) giving such party an opportunity of being heard, makes an application to the High Court for the vacation of such order and furnishes a copy of such application to the party in whose favour such order has been made or the counsel of such party, the High Court shall dispose of the application within a period of two weeks from the date on which it is received or from the date on which the copy of such application is so furnished, whichever is later, or where the High Court is closed on the last day of that period, before the expiry of the next day afterwards on which the High Court is open; and if the application is not so disposed of, the interim order shall, on the expiry of that period, or , as the case may be, the expiry of the aid next day, stand vacated.

(4) The power conferred on a High Court by this article shall not be in derogation of the power conferred on the Supreme Court by clause (2) of Article 32.[4]

  • Civil procedure code, 1908

Sec.151: (Saving of inherent powers of Court)- Nothing in this Code shall be deemed to limit or otherwise affect the inherent power of the Court to make such orders as may be necessary for the ends of justice or to prevent abuse of the process of the Court.[5]

Judgement

The honourable court notices that “the labourers who have left their ancestral homes/villages and moved to the cities for better livelihood to ensure that all of us living in comfort are on the roads today. They represent the people, who are working in hundreds of different trades, callings etc., and all of them together ensure that we lead a happy and comfortable life. If at this stage, this court does not react and past these orders, the court would be falling in its role as a protector and alleviator of suffering. Their pain has to be alleviated at this stage. The ever expanding scope of “life” under ar.21 of the Constitution of India will take into account the situation also. They deserve more help, particularly when they are trekking back with their heads high instead of living at someone’s Mercy.”

The court also stated that even if the counter affidavit is filed and the submissions made it is clear that the state government is rendering help to the migrant labourers and the labourers who are on the move, but more is needed to be done as the number of labourers on the move is vast. The court further directed the government to set some of these facilities with immediate effort.

  1. Medical: There should be adequate stock of good drinking water, oral dehydration salts and glucose packet. Trained paramedical volunteers and/or doctors and ambulance should be present.
  2.  Toilets/change rooms:  There should be temporary toilets with hygienic conditions should be set up with sanitary pad dispensing machines.
  3.  Food:  Adequate arrangements for food should be made and same should be distributed.
  4. Transportation:  The vehicles used for patrolling should be used for transporting the migrant labourers to the nearest shelter in addition to the buses provided by the government.
  5. Pamphlets:  There should be pamphlets given to labourers in Hindi and Telugu, having phone numbers to be contacted in case of emergencies.
  6. Safety measures: Adequate police personnel should be posted it every food stall/shelter and should ensure social distancing and discipline.
  7.  Services: The district collector of Each district and the superintendent of police should appoint a nodal officer, so that they can supervise every activity taking place in these shelters, food stalls etc. In case of shortage of staff, they can take people from NSS, NCC, Bharath Scouts and guides, Red Cross, Lions Clubs, Rotary club or such other organisations.

The compliance with these interim measures should be made and reported to this court with clear details.

Conclusion

It is very clear that the appellant filed the petition in public interest as large numbers of labourers were migrating and were on the move to travel to their hometown. During the time of Covid 19, when every person was in comfort of their home, these labourers were suffering in the harsh and hot weather by walking hundred kilometres of distance. The intrim measures adopted by the court were of utmost necessity as despite the summer, the migrant labourers with their children and baggage were walking on the national highways.

In my opinion, the interim measures given by the High Court are on point as these labourers needed immediate help. As in the COVID-19 phase many organisations and people on individual level came forward to help these migrants  but at the same time state needs to put more efforts as there were vast number of labourers with their children with them. The weather is extremely hot, there were female workers who would have been menstruating, some of them would have been pregnant and these females too were trekking towards their hometown which is miles away. This is absolutely violating their right to life. These labourers should be assisted in every way possible.


[1] INDIA CONST.  art.14

[2] INDIA CONST. art.19

[3] INDIA CONST. art.21

[4] INDIA CONST. art.226

[5] The Civil Procedure Code, S.151, No. 5, Imperial Legislative Council, 1908 (India)

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Mittali

    Very well. Must read this insightful analysis.

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