Need to wait: Supreme Court of India on evacuating stranded Indians in US

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has said there was a need to wait for some time before any direction is given to the Centre for bringing back Indian citizens stranded in the USA in the wake of coronavirus pandemic as efforts are being made by both, New Delhi and Washington, to provide assistance to them.

The top court said the US government was extending visas of stranded Indians who are spread across America and at this stage it’s difficult to pass direction for bringing them back.

The top court, which was hearing a plea seeking direction to the Centre to bring back Indian citizens stranded in USA due to travel restriction, observed that the coronavirus pandemic is a worldwide problem and every country is doing its best to deal with the situation.

“They cannot be brought in, no matter how much we want. Assistance is being given to them. They are spread across US and cannot be brought back. The US government is extending the visas. Let us wait for some time,” a bench of Justices NV Ramana, SK Kaul and BR Gavai said.

Senior advocate Vibha Datta Makhija, who filed the plea, told the bench that application for visa extension costs around $ 500 and there was no guarantee of visa getting extended.

“It is a different government. We cannot control their decisions. Indian government can request the US government to not create problems in the visa extension,” said the bench, which heard the matter through video-conferencing.

The petitioner told the bench that evacuation of Indians from foreign countries amid coronavirus pandemic was done earlier and some of the people stranded in the USA are in dire need of help.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench that evacuation from foreign countries was done earlier but “now, internationally it has been stopped.”

Vibha Makhija said there are international commitment to meet along with the guidelines of World Health Organization (WHO) and also rights of citizens.

However, the bench said “The court will not tell the government to do anything in a particular manner. It is a worldwide problem. Each country is doing their best. These are not matters for court’s intervention.”

It said the government would lay down the roadmap.

When the petitioner said that several persons stranded in USA are in high distress and some of them are suffering from diseases, the solicitor general suggested that they can convey the issues to the designated nodal officer for the particular country. (PTI)


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