The Uttarakhand High Court on the 20th of April, 2020 disposed of a writ petition seeking the repatriation of Nepali citizens through diplomatic channels and stated that no direction can be issued to the Central Government to expedite the repatriation as such issuance of direction would amount to the encroachment of the field reserved for the Central Government.
The writ petition also stated that foreign nationals have slipped into the territory of the state of Uttarakhand and sought for issuance of appropriate orders to the agencies responsible for the security of the Indo- Nepal border. The court stated that there was no factual foundation in the petition to prove the influx of various foreign nationals into the territory of the state and that issuance of such orders would be an exercise in futility.
The court further clarified that the settlement of a large number of Nepali citizens in various parts of the country is common knowledge and that many of these citizens have no intention to go back to their country. Only such Nepali citizens, who are desperate to go back to their home country and are stuck in the shelter homes established by Government of Uttarakhand in the bordering districts, can be said to be stranded. Therefore, no useful purpose would be served in gathering information regarding all Nepali citizens residing in various parts of the State of Uttarakhand. Even otherwise also, it would not be feasible in these difficult times to locate every Nepali citizen living in the State of Uttarakhand and to gather information about him.
The court also took into account the fact that the right under Article 21 of the constitution was available to non- citizens also and that the state is under a constitutional obligation to provide necessities like food, drinking water and shelter to the Nepali citizens stranded in the state. The Disaster Management Act, 2005 in Section 12(1) provides for guidelines to be issued by the National Authority for the minimum standard of relief to be provided to persons affected by the disaster. Chapter III of the Disaster Management Act deals with the powers and functions of the State Executive Committee under Section 24. The section lays down the duty of the state to provide the stranded non0 citizens with necessities.
The petitioners also enquired about the steps taken by the State Government to protect the life and liberty of Nepali citizens stranded in the state due to lockdown declared in both India and Nepal. The government responded to the same, stating that it has made makeshift shelter homes where as much as 1473 Nepali citizens are being housed currently. It is submitted that these Nepali citizens are also being provided with newspaper, magazines besides television facility for their entertainment. It is further submitted that the services of Yoga Instructors have also been provided in these shelter homes to take care of physical and mental health well being of the persons staying there. It is further stated that literacy camp is also being organized in the shelter homes in District Champawat to help the illiterate Nepali citizens getting literate.
The court also informed the petitioners about the guidelines issued by the National Authority which takes care of all the needs of the persons stranded in shelter homes. It directed the state authority and the state executive committee to ensure that the guidelines are properly implemented in their letter and spirit in respect of the Nepali citizens staying in the state of Uttarakhand.
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