Supreme Court asks Govt to prioritise women in advanced stages of pregnancy in repatriating Indians from Gulf Countries amid COVID-19
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Supreme Court asks Govt to prioritise women in advanced stages of pregnancy in repatriating Indians from Gulf Countries amid COVID-19

The plea had been filed for 18 Indian medical professionals from Kerala residing in Saudi Arabia who are in their third trimester of pregnancy and who were seeking immediate repatriation.

Debayan Roy

The Supreme Court has asked that the government prioritise women in advanced stages of pregnancy when while repatriating Indian citizens from Gulf countries amid the COVID-19 crisis.

A three-judge Bench comprising of Justices Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul and BR Gavai was hearing a plea by 18 Indian medical professionals from Kerala residing in Saudi Arabia, who are in their third trimester of pregnancy seeking immediate repatriation.

Senior Advocate Indira Jaising for the petitioners today urged the Court to consider the plea and allow their immediate arrival to India.

However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the government of India stated that Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) will be strictly followed in this case as well.

The Court noted that even though pregnant women will be given priority as per the SOP, women in their third trimesters should be given a little more priority, considering their condition.

"The Government shall explore the question of further priority as per the specific cases of the petitioners and shall take appropriate steps accordingly", the Court said.

With this observation, the matter has been disposed of by the top court.

The writ petition under Article 32, moved through Advocate Jose Abraham had stated that the plea needed to be heard urgently as all the 18 women-petitioners in the case would not be able to travel once they enter the 36th week of gestation.

The petitioners had stated that due to closure of airports in India to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, the petitioners could not reach the country even though all of them had tickets booked for the month of March and April in consonance with their scheduled delivery dates.

The plea further stated that all 18 petitioners are living alone in the country. They raised a grievance that with no family to take care of them and hospitals being converted as COVID-19 treatment centres, the conditions for them and their fetuses are vulnerable.

In some of the cases, the petitioners are also posted in remote parts of Saudi Arabia, where facilities are scarce but where they hardly have the resources to afford treatment in private hospitals, it was submitted.

Some of the petitioners had resigned from their jobs anticipating their arrival in India for delivery. However, with restrictions on domestic and international flights in India, some of the petitioners are left with no income or resources.

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