28 Feb 2022 8:45 AM GMT
The Kerala High Court Advocate's Association (KHCAA) has moved the High Court today seeking the repatriation of students from Kerala stuck in Ukraine amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. Justice N. Nagaresh permitted the petitioners to pass on whatever information they have regarding the students to the Assistant Solicitor General to do whatever possible to facilitate their...
The Kerala High Court Advocate's Association (KHCAA) has moved the High Court today seeking the repatriation of students from Kerala stuck in Ukraine amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Justice N. Nagaresh permitted the petitioners to pass on whatever information they have regarding the students to the Assistant Solicitor General to do whatever possible to facilitate their expeditious repatriation. The Court has ordered that the matter be listed as the first item on Wednesday for further consideration.
The children of the two members of the Association are alleged to be stranded in Ukraine with no means to communicate or return to the State. KHCAA has therefore preferred a petition on behalf of all parents in the State who are awaiting the return of their children from Ukraine.
It is alleged that these students are to bear the entire cost and risk of travelling in a warzone to the nearest border. After this ordeal, Indians are faced with mass discrimination and torture by the Ukrainian army and the border patrol. The plea has contended that the army and the border patrol have been opening gunfire towards the sky and spraying pepper at these children to neutralize them.
"Indians are also being made to wait for hours in the extreme cold weather, which has led to a lack of sleep and food for most of these students, while some of these children have fainted and hence these people are facing extreme hardship at the border," the plea reads.
It has also been pointed out that one of the main reasons behind such mistreatment was the lack of a presence of representatives of the Indian Embassy.
The petitioners had sent a representation to the Chief Minister of Kerala to intervene and take necessary steps to facilitate the repatriation of students from Kerala who are stranded in Ukraine. KHCAA had simultaneously taken up the matter with the Advocate General of the State of Kerala and the Assistant Solicitor General of India.
Meanwhile, the Indian Embassy in Ukraine took the stand that unless there are any court orders directing arrangements to be made by the embassy, steps cannot be taken to facilitate the repatriation of students from Kerala who are stranded in Ukraine.
Given this, there is a requirement that a specific direction is issued to the Ambassador of India in Ukraine that immediate steps be taken to evacuate the students, including by facilitating assistance and protection at border crossings and ensuring safe transport of the students from their respective locations to the neighbouring countries from where their air travel is being arranged.
The petitioners contended that the Centre is empowered under the Emigration Act, 1983 and the rules made thereunder, and can make use of the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) and other measures, to take steps necessary to protect Indian citizens who are in distress/ stranded abroad.
As such, it was prayed that a court order as mentioned above may be issued by the High Court, so that the students from Kerala stranded in Ukraine can be repatriated and brought back home.
When the matter was taken up, the petitioner's counsel Advocate Santhosh Mathew submitted the practical difficulties faced by the students who are on the way from Kyiv to Lviv Railway station.
The petitioner requested that arrangements be made for transportation of the students from Lviv Railway station to the Polish Border. It was also informed that Sister Ligy Payyappilly, Mother Superior of a Convent at Mukachevo near Lviv has agreed to provide shelter and food till travel arrangements are made to the Polish Border.
The petitioner also requested that expenses may be met by the Government or parents are willing to transfer money to the Embassy at Warsaw which can make arrangements for transportation from Lviv Railway Station to Poland from where they can be brought back by Air India flights.
ASG S. Manu appearing for the Centre submitted that the Union is sending four Cabinet Ministers to facilitate the repatriation of the 19000 Indian students stranded in Ukraine. He also assured that the government has full empathy for the parents of the students and assured that prompt action would be taken to bring the students back to India. He also said that other carriers have also been requested to provide assistance to bring back the children.
The State Attorney submitted that the Chief Minister has already written to the Prime Minister and is willing to meet the expenses of bringing students to Kerala once they reach anywhere in India since the State Government has a very limited role to play in facilitating travel from Ukraine to India.
The plea has been filed through Advocates Santhosh Mathew, Arun Thomas, Karthika Maria, Anil Sebastian Pulickel, Abi Benny Areeckat, Leah Rachel Ninan, Mathew Nevin Thomas, Karthik Rajagopal, Nanda Sanal, Sanita Sabu Varghese, Kurian Antony Mathew, Nanda Surendran and Manasa Benny George.
Also Read: Russia- Ukraine Conflict: Lawyer Moves Supreme Court Seeking Directions To Centre To Protect Stranded Indian
Case Title: Kerala High Court Advocate's Association & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors.