New Delhi, April 3: The Centre on Friday strongly opposed the petitions filed by activists for payment of wages to migrant workers who have been left without work due to the 21-day nationwide lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic and said till the country comes out of this unprecedented tragedy, such “professional PIL shops” must be locked down.

Preparing Public Interest Litigations (PILs) without any ground-level information or knowledge while sitting in an air-conditioned office is not “public service” entitling any of them (activists) to argue public interest litigations particularly in the present global crisis, the government said.

A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Deepak Gupta, which took PILs filed by activists Harsh Mander, Anjali Bhardwaj and Swami Agnivesh on the issue of plight of migrant workers for hearing through video conferencing, was told by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that the government has done exemplary work in containing the spread of COVID-19 to the minimum number possible.

The bench, which sought response from the Centre on the PILs, was informed by Mr Mehta that the government has taken several pro-active and timely steps at various levels to mitigate the problems faced by the citizens.

Vehemently opposing the PILs, Tushar Mehta pointed out that the country is going through unprecedented crisis of fighting an unknown deadly virus and all officers are working day and night through several control rooms. He said none of the petitioners have even bothered to serve the poor and needy or the persons suffering from the virus and, therefore, can never be treated as “public spirited citizens”.

He said that till the country and the world comes out of this unprecedented tragedy such “professional PIL shops” must be locked down as none of them have any concern about the poor and needy or thousands of patients fighting this deadly disease.

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