17,000 Indians evacuated from Ukraine, SC told; Bench expresses concern over stranded

Author: Deepanaashri.k

The Supreme Court on Friday expressed concern over the stranded students in Ukraine while hearing a petition seeking direction to the Centre to evacuate Indian nationals from the war-torn country. Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the Government of India, asserted that the Centre was concerned for the students as well and 17,000 Indian citizens had already been evacuated from Ukraine. The Bench, comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justices Hima Kohli and A S Bopanna, noted, “We are not saying a single word about the Centre. We appreciate that (Centre’s efforts) but we are concerned about these students”. The Court also gave a suggestion for an online helpline for parents at a central level, observing that some states were already doing that. The CJI observed, “It’s unfortunate we haven’t learnt from past situation of wars etc. We don’t have much say in this. But the anxiety is about students.” The Court was hearing two petitions, one PIL filed by advocated Vishal Tiwari seeking directions to Centre and another filed by Bengaluru resident, Fathima Ahana, an MBBS student in Odessa who was seeking permission to be allowed to cross a checkpoint in Moldova to reach Romania and board the evacuation flight. Regarding Ahana’s petition, the AG informed the Court that Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia had contacted the petitioner, who is now in Romania, and “she will be brought back to India today”. “She and the persons accompanying her will all be in India by tonight,” he added. The CJI thanked the AG for his personal interest in the matter. He inquired about the number of stranded Indians in the conflict area, to which the AG responded, “This morning news said 7,000. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a cabinet meeting to have further evacuation and so it’s (being) done swiftly”. The AG then requested the matter to be left to the government, stating that another plea has been filed in Rajasthan High Court. “A large number of such petitions will now be filed,” he said. The Bench responded, “Please inform counsels in other states that once we are hearing this (matter), the High Courts need not hear this.”

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