SC issues show-cause notice to govt for failing to pay migrants’ repatriation expenses

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KATHMANDU: A show-cause notice has been issued by the Supreme Court to the government for not paying repatriation and quarantine expenses of Nepali migrant workers who have been stuck in different countries due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

A single bench of Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher JB Rana issued the notice, on Sunday.

The notice was issued by the apex court in response to a writ petition filed at the Supreme Court against the “Order of the Government of Nepal, 2020”, challenging the provision regarding repatriation of Nepali migrant workers from destination countries at their own cost.

The writ application — filed by Advocates Barun Ghimire, Prabin Subedi, Anurag Devkota, and Binaya Rimal — had been scheduled for a preliminary hearing on June 7.

The provision of the Order requiring the migrant workers to bear the cost of airfare and hotel quarantines are inconsistent with the Constitution and governing legislation of Nepal, stated Advocate Barun Ghimire.

The provision in the Order (Paragraph 7(c) and 7(d)) regarding the cost of airfare and hotel quarantines for returnees from third countries and the cost of transportation from holding centres to local quarantine centres for returnees from India to be borne by the returnees themselves contradicts with Section 75(2) of the Foreign Employment Act, 2004 on rescue and repatriation of migrant workers in a situation of disaster and distress, and Sec 33(1) on utilising the foreign employment welfare fund for the purpose of rescue and repatriation.

The writ petition demands that the government bear the cost of rescue and repatriation of the disadvantaged and unemployed workers — who are not in a position to bear such expenses themselves — including airfare and hotel quarantines.

The petition was filed on June 3 against the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers; Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation; Ministry of Health and Population; and Foreign Employment Board Secretariat.

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