Supreme Court Appreciates Centre For Evacuating Indians From Ukraine, Says Concerned About Anxiety Of People


Mar 04, 2022, 02:02 PM | Updated 02:02 PM IST

Supreme Court of India.
Supreme Court of India.

New Delhi, Mar 4 (PTI) The Supreme Court Friday took note of the Centre's submission that it has so far evacuated 17,000 stranded Indian students from the war zone in Ukraine, saying it appreciated the efforts but was concerned about the anxiety of people.

The top court asked the Centre to consider setting up an “online helpline” for the parents and families of stranded students in Ukraine and conveyed to the high courts not to take up the issue pertaining to the evacuation of students to avoid multiplicity of litigation.

A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana took note of the submission of Attorney General K K Venugopal that 17,000 stranded Indian students have been evacuated and the rest are in the process of being rescued by the government which is “as concerned as your Lordships”.

“We are not saying a single word, anything about the efforts which you are taking. We appreciate that but at the same time, we are also concerned about the anxiety of the people,” said the bench which also comprised justices A S Bopanna and Hima Kohli.

At the outset, the CJI termed as “unfortunate” the ongoing war by Russia on Ukraine and said conflicts can be resolved through negotiations.

“It is unfortunate we haven’t learnt lessons from history where the human race has been fighting wars and killing people and all that. Conflicts can be resolved through negotiations... We have no say in these issues. But, the anxiety for us is how to save these students,” the bench said.

Venugopal, who was asked by the bench to use his good office to help in evacuation of Bengaluru resident Fathima Ahana and several other medical students from near the Romania border in Ukraine, gave the good news to the bench that the petitioner student and others would be reaching India tonight.

The top most law officer said that he had contacted P K Mishra, Principal secretary of the Prime Minister on Thursday, about the girl who was unable to cross over to Romania and was stuck on Ukraine side of the border.

“The concern was communicated to Shri P K Mishra. He communicated that to Shri Scindia (Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia), the person in charge in Romania and the telephone number of Fatima Ahana was also given...She is now in Romania,” he said, adding “I expect that she and the persons accompanying her, the other college students, will come back by tonight.”

“Attorney General, we sincerely thank you very much for the efforts which you made by taking personal interest in this matter,” the CJI said.

On being asked about the number of students stranded in Ukraine, Venugopal said as per morning news, approximately 7,000 students are left there and 17,000 have already been evacuated.

He also referred to a petition filed in the Rajasthan High Court on the issue and said that the Indian government is capable of seeing that these people are evacuated swiftly.

“Attorney General, you can inform your counsel appearing in state high courts that once we are hearing and the Centre is taking steps there is no meaning of every high court entertaining and issuing directions. Please, bring it to the notice of the high courts that we are seized of the matter,” it said.

The bench asked the Centre to consider setting up “an online helpline” for the parents and said that it would not pass any orders and fixed the two pleas for further hearing on next Friday.

It also came down on a lawyer, who had filed the PIL in his personal capacity, saying, “if you are really sincere and want to do social service, then this is not the way of filing a writ petition by using some newspaper cuttings etc... You know this is a sensitive situation, we cannot say no to anything. Please do not take advantage of this and try to get popularity out of this which is your intention.”

On Thursday, the bench had asked Venugopal to use his “good office” in helping evacuate some Indian medical students stranded in war-ravaged Ukraine near the Romania border.

In the plea, filed through lawyer Abhay Anand Jena, Ahana has sought a direction to the Ministry of External Affairs to secure permission for her and other stranded students to cross the check point in Moldova from Ukraine enroute to Romania for boarding the Air India evacuation flight.

It has also sought a direction to the MEA to immediately take effective diplomatic steps and measures for the evacuation of the petitioner and others from Ukraine to India.

“Issue a writ of mandamus or any other writ or 10 directions, thereby directing the Respondent to ensure the essential and emergency supplies like medical, housing and lodging facilities and supply of food and other essential necessities to the Petitioner,” it said.

Ahana, a resident of Indiranagar in Banglore, is a medical student from National Medical University in Odessa, Ukraine, since 2017.

The ongoing Russia-Ukraine war 'has left the life and liberty of the Petitioner in danger, who is residing in Ukraine for studies. Besides the Petitioner, Over 250 Indian students are presently stranded in Ukraine stuck and trapped, crying and looking for hope towards the Respondent”, it said.

Lawyer Vishal Tiwari, who has filed a separate PIL on the issue in his personal capacity, has sought a direction to the Centre to take immediate and effective steps for safe return of stranded students and their families from the country under attack.

As per reports from Kyiv, Russia has stepped up its attack on Ukraine.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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