PIL in SC seeking direction to the Centre to evacuate vulnerable Indian citizens in the United States of America amid the COVID-19 pandemic

The Supreme Court observed that a contract is void if prohibited by a statute under a penalty, even without express declaration that the contract is void

Pravasi Legal Cell has filed a PIL urging the top court to direct the Centre to make necessary arrangements to bring them back home as they were living in vulnerable conditions.

Prior Facts:

The PIL comes days after India evacuated around 600 of the total 850 Indian Shia pilgrims from Iran where they had got stranded due to COVID19. Around 250 of them who had tested positive for the Coronavirus were not airlifted. The petition is filed through Advocate Jaikriti Jadeja.

Key Features:

  • PIL has alleged that “over nine million Indians working in Gulf region were being denied COVID-19 testing and treatment in their host countries”, and therefore the directions should be given to the Centre for the evacuation of the citizens.
  • The Plea stated that “international laws do not impede the Indian government from carrying out the evacuation in a phased manner”.
  • It added that “it is the obligation on every country to evacuate its citizens from foreign jurisdictions amid a humanitarian crisis”.
  • It added that evacuation of Indian citizens from COVID-19 hotspots such as Wuhan, Italy, or Iran and not from places like the USA is discriminatory given that the USA has now become one of the hotspots for the deadly virus.
  • The petitioners also submitted that Sections 35 and 36 of the Disaster Management Act mandate for the government to evacuate all its citizens from foreign jurisdictions.
  • The petition pointed out that India brought back her citizens from other countries but didn’t make any effort to evacuate the stranded Indians from the gulf region.
  • The PIL alleged that “as the host countries wanted to take care of their citizens first, the Indian migrant workers were not being given treatment even after many of them tested positive for COVID19”.
  • The PIL stated that “The migrant workers in the Gulf countries are being denied treatment in hospitals even after testing positive for COVID-19 and are told to stay back in their house or camp itself. This is because the number of patients who are getting infected is going up, there is a shortage of beds in government hospitals”.
  • It said as day to day their condition is worsening, in the absence of testing and treatment facilities, there was a high risk of COVID-19 transmission among migrant Indian workers as they lived in cramped conditions.
  • The PIL demanded financial aid to those migrant workers in Gulf countries who lost their jobs due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
  • The PIL sought directions to the Centre to ensure that adequate food, medicines, quarantine and emergency service facilities were made available to them Maintaining that the government was under constitutional obligation to protect these Indian migrant workers in this extraordinary time “which has threatened the very existence of the human race.
  • A senior advocate Vibha Datta Makhija and advocate Kashish Aneja on Friday filed a separate PIL seeking a direction to the Centre to arrange special flights to airlift Indian citizens stranded in the US.
  • They stated that “a blanket ban on international flights has put the Indian citizens in the US in great difficulty” while appreciating the government’s decision to impose a nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID19.

Edited by J. Madonna Jephi

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

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Vaibhav Goyal is a 3rd year BA.LLB (H) student of UILS, Panjab University, Chandigarh, India. He also basically belongs to the “City Beautiful-Chandigarh”. He had interned and have work experience at various Central and State Government bodies of India including the National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi; the Central Information Commission, New Delhi; U.T. Legal Services Authority, Chandigarh, etc. His research projects includes the study on the Right to Emergency Services (PSHRC), Resettlement of Migrant People (NHRC), Implications of RTI in Financial Institutions (CIC), etc. His publications involve articles in different fields of law like administrative, jurisprudence, etc. on online journals including the Juscholars Blog, Burnished Law Journal, etc. His research paper on Prison Reform was published in the Panjab University Journal and his paper was selected in category of best abstract on the topic of Naxalism: A State of Lawlessness and Arbitrariness. He had scored well in various competitions of law consisting of Quiz, Essay Writing, Lecture, Declamation, etc. He had also participated in various conferences including the World Law Forum Conference on Strategic Lawsuits on Public Participation held in New Delhi on Oct 20, 2018 and the National Law Conclave 2020 held at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on Jan 11, 2020.