Delhi High Court has directed the Central Government to contact the Indian students who are stuck in Iran due to the coronavirus outbreak and give necessary assurances to them.
While highlighting the need for the Indian embassy to reach out to these students, the Single Bench of Justice Navin Chawla has directed the Union to submit a status report highlighting the evacuation plan undertaken by the government.
Today, It was informed to the court by the Petitioner that while it's the students who are stuck in Universities and are required to be provided with immediate assistance, the evacuation process is rather focused on pilgrims who are scattered across Iran.
'Unlike the pilgrims, the students can be easily located as they're in specific Universities. None of the 117 students have been contacted by the Indian embassy', the Petitioner said.
Central Government cited their status report to submit that despite almost no support from the Iranian authorities on the ground, various steps have been taken to evacuate not just the pilgrims but also students and other visitors.
It was also informed by the government counsel Anurag Ahluwalia that a team of experts headed by a scientist from Pune laboratory was sent to Iran. Moreover, the government is following the WHO Protocol and swabs are being brought back to India for testing.
'More than 3000 persons are stuck there, it's a mammoth task. Our embassy is fully working and providing all kinds of support to the persons stuck in Iran.'
Further, it was submitted by the government that the Iranian government has stopped airline communication. Therefore, Air Force aircrafts were sent to evacuate the Indian citizens.
'We're in touch with the Iranian government to let certain airlines operate between the two countries', the government said.
It was also submitted by the government that fishermen and pilgrims which are stuck in different provinces of Iran are being provided with monetary and medical assistance.
Observing the gravity of the issue, the court opined that:
'The government must chart out a priority plan and focus on persons whose locations are already known. The government must first focus on areas that are worst affected.'
Justice Navin Chawla also told the government that merely the issuance of medical advisories won't help. The students who are stuck there need to be given actual assurances.
'Please do sometime more', the court suggested.
Filed by the parents of the students who have been stranded in Iran, the petition seeks court's direction to the Ministry of External Affairs to provide special flight/aeroplane /ship/cruise to take the students from Iran to India.
It is highlighted that certain Universities in Iran - TUMS, Shiraz, Tehran, Amirkabir - have been shut down due to the outbreak of coronavirus.
Many Indian students from Kashmir, who have been studying in these Universities, have been left stranded as there are no flights that are going from Iran to India.
'Several cases of infection has been detected in past few days fearing major outbreak the University has decided to close down the colleges and the hostel facilities and canceled the exams thus students have been advised to proceed to their respective countries. The students have been trying to find a mode to travel back to India to save their lives in this extreme hazardous situation. The students are however shocked and surprised to know that no flights are going from Iran to India. The students are left with no means to come back to their country and unite with their families.', the petition says.
It is also mentioned that the students tried seeking help from the Indian embassy in Iran, but they could not receive any relief.
The petition has cited the plight of these students as a violation of their Right to Life and Liberty.
It is further submitted that the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Civil Aviation had made arrangements of special flights and safely evacuated several students who are Indian Citizens from different countries like China, Japan and Italy.
Since these students have no other means to get back their country and safety, the present petition has sought the court's intervention to ask the Ministry of External Affairs to evacuate these students.