‘People should stay where they are’, Supreme Court says on petitions for repatriation of stranded Indians in other countries
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‘People should stay where they are’, Supreme Court says on petitions for repatriation of stranded Indians in other countries

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court today adjourned petitions seeking repatriation of stranded Indians in various foreign countries while also observing that amid this pandemic, people should stay where they are and it may not be possible to bring back all Indians at the moment.

The Bench of CJI SA Bobde with Justices L Nageswara Rao and Mohan M Shantanagoudar took up the various petitions regarding evacuation of stranded Indian citizens from foreign jurisdictions for hearing via video conferencing today.

The Apex Court also said that the affected persons may make a representation before the Centre and the government must take necessary action for the safety of Indians in foreign jurisdictions right now. The Court observed that,

"People should stay where they are right now," and added that it may not be possible to bring back all the Indian citizens under the present circumstances. This remark was made by the Court while hearing a petition for repatriation of a student in the UK, who according to the Centre's affidavit is now safe.

A separate petition for evacuation of vulnerable Indian citizens from the USA which has emerged as the new hotspot of the contagion was also heard by the Supreme Court today which was filed by Senior Advocate Vibha Datta Makhija.

The Court has directed the Centre to file its response on this petition as well as the one concerning evacuation of stranded Indian fishermen in Iran within period of one week while fixing the date for heating on these pleas on Monday, April 20.

While Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Court that the world over visa extensions are being granted amid this pandemic, bringing back Indians right now would not be possible and the same has been submitted in the Centre's affidavit filed.

Earlier this month, on April 7, the Apex Court had issued notice to the Centre on a plea filed by a practising Advocate, Madhurima Mridul, seeking repatriation of stranded Indian students from the United Kingdom. Mehta was referring to the affidavit filed in this case implying that the position taken by the Centre in this affidavit is applicable for all other countries as well. The Court, however, asked SG Mehta to file a response specific to the USA within a week.

All the other petitions including one filed by MP from Kozhikode MK Raghavan for evacuating stranded Indian citizens from GCC nations as well as a similar plea filed earlier for evacuation of Indian migrant workers in Gulf countries filed by a migrant welfare society, all stand adjourned for four weeks.

On the petition filed by Raghavan, the Court has directed the government to consider the suggestions made in the petition and file a status report thereby within a period of four weeks.

The Supreme Court had, prior to that, disposed of a plea for evacuation and repatriation of stranded Indian pilgrims from the Iranian city of Qom after recording the Centre's assurance that most of the pilgrims were brought back and those who remained to be in Iran were either infected or were relatives of those infected persons who chose to stay back. The Centre had also assured the Court that Indian citizens in Iran were being attended to and provided medical care and facility which led to the Court disposing of the matter.

Read Centre's affidavit in Madhurima Mridul vs UOI

Reply in Madhurima Mridul SC.pdf
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