"It is very significant and very unusual that the court issued the warrant," said Colin Gonsalves, founder of the Human Rights Law Network which represented the petitioner, the charity Peoples' Rights and Social Research Centre (PRASAR).
Many of the workers are poor tribals or bonded labourers who work for little or no money. They rarely receive medical care or compensation for loss of pay because of the disease. "These workers are abandoned by their employer, by the state. They have no rights, no protection," Mr Gonsalves said.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court ordered the Gujarat government to pay 3 lakhs to the families of each of the 238 migrant workers from Madhya Pradesh who died of the incurable lung disease, which they had contracted working in quarries and stone-crushing factories in Godhra, in Gujarat. The state must submit proof it has paid compensation within eight weeks, the court said. It said Madhya Pradesh will rehabilitate a further 304 workers from that state who contracted the disease. The next hearing at the Supreme Court is on June 30.