Taking contention of the worsening situation due to the Pandemic created by COVID-19, the Supreme Court issued a notice to the Centre on a petition filed by Advocate Madhurima Mridul seeking immediate evacuation of the stranded Indian students in the United Kingdom.
The petitioner also contended that due to the embargo imposed by the government on travel and the ban on international flights, the students were being prevented from returning to their homeland which is violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.
In a complete lockdown imposed by the Government of India on 22nd March, a travel ban was imposed on all international commercial passenger aircraft from any foreign airport to be deported back to India till 14th April, due to which the students could not book their tickets.
The plea highlighted that the students were at a greater risk of contracting the virus because they were jammed in packed hostels with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities and were without the basic necessities to sustain life. The petitioner stated that the students made all possible efforts to contact the High Commission of India in the UK, but there were no steps taken to repatriate them and therefore, the intervention of the Honourable Court was sought.
“Indian students in the UK are left with no option but to fight for their sustenance away from their families in India. While the UK government is helping international students and is ensuring that they are not evicted from university accommodations, those who live in private apartments are in many cases not being able to pay rents or afford basic sustenance,” the petitioner submitted.
The petitioner prayed before the Court to issue a blanket notice that there should be a schedule of flights and to facilitate the return of the citizens back to India. The plea also stated that the students who would return from abroad could be quarantined and kept in isolation to observe relevant medical protocols.
The Court asked the Solicitor General to take note of the situation and urgently take steps for the same.