PIL in Supreme Court: Plea to Evacuate the Indian Citizens who are stranded in USA

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More than 20,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the United States, which now has more reported deaths than any country in the world. At least 537,356 people have tested positive for the virus. The US death toll has climbed to 22000 deaths. Therefore considering the present tragic condition of USA public interest litigation has been filed in the Supreme Court this week seeking an order from the government to evacuate the stranded Indian citizens in the USA. The PIL seeks the government to arrange evacuation measures for the distressed Indian citizens in the USA.

The petition has been filed by the senior advocate Vibha Datta Makhija and Advocate Kashish Aneja. The petition seeks to arrange a special carrier in order to evacuate the vulnerable for the Indian citizens. A plethora of Indian citizens are struck in the USA amid the blanket travel ban imposed by states on international and national flights, which has aggravated the distress among the Indian citizens. India has also imposed the ban on international flights since 22 March 2020 to mitigate the outspread of COVID-19.

The petition seeks to enforce Article 21 of the Indian constitution which deals with the Right to Life and Personal Liberty. It doesn’t intend to challenge the order which imposes the ban upon the international carriers. They only seek from the government to exercise its moral and legal duty on humanitarian grounds to evacuate only those Indian citizens. The prayer is limited to evacuate the Indian citizens “on a case to case basis who have approached the various consulates through the helpline or otherwise.” Furthermore, it is suggested in the petition to evaluate the hotspot zones in the USA for their evacuation to relatively safer zones. It is also suggested that several Indian citizens were on temporary visas, which might expire soon, which makes the Indian citizens vulnerable on being declared as “illegal immigrants”. The evacuation of such citizens shall be made as earliest as possible.

It is also submitted before the Hon’ble Supreme Court that arranging the evacuation for the Indian Citizens would not lead to the violation of any international laws. On the other hand, it’s the legal and moral obligation upon the government to evacuate such stranded citizens amid a humanitarian crisis. Further, the evacuation of citizens from the high-risk zones of Wuhan, Italy and Iran, was “discriminatory” against those stranded in the states of New York and California, which is now the place with the maximum number of COVID-19 in the world. The evacuation of such stranded citizens is mandatory under Sections 35 and 36 of the Disaster Management Act which states that it is compulsory for the government to evacuate all its citizens from foreign jurisdictions.


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