The Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court of India

Plea in SC seeking payment of wages to MGNREGA workers amid lockdown

ANI | Updated: Apr 04, 2020 16:00 IST

New Delhi [India], April 4 (ANI): Social activists Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey have approached the Supreme Court, seeking directions for the payment of wages to MNREGA workers during the lockdown, issuance of temporary job cards to migrants, who returned to their native villages, and for an increase in the entitlement of households from 100 to 200 days of work.
The petition filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan on Saturday sought directions to the Central government to deem all active MGNREGA registered households as on duty during the lockdown period and pay their full wage on a time rate basis accordingly.
The government should issue individual temporary job cards within 15 days to all migrants who have returned from the cities to their native villages, the plea has sought.
The plea also sought directions "to increase the entitlement of households from 100 days of work to 200 days per household to support rural livelihoods during the emerging economic crisis."

The petition is filed under Article 32 in the public interest to protect the fundamental rights to health and livelihood guaranteed under Article 14 and Article 21 of the Constitution of India of over 7.6 crore active job cardholders under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (MGNREGA Act).
The active job cardholders are those who have been seeking work and coming to work under the MGNREGA over the past two years.
"In forcing over 12 crore workers to seek work daily during the lockdown when public transport is not available, when police have clear directions to apprehend any non-essential worker, and when the violation of lockdown itself is a punishable offence, the said order also violates the Right to Life and Livelihood of these vulnerable citizens," the plea said.
It said that the arbitrary order exacerbates a public health emergency as coronavirus cases have now spread to large parts of rural India.
The plea said that the lockdown imposed by the government is arbitrary and violative of Article 14 as it places them at a disadvantage vis-a-vis all other non-essential workers, who have been allowed to protect their health by staying home. (ANI)