Kerala High Court on Saturday sought the response of the Central government on a plea seeking directions for the evacution of Indian citizens stranded in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) amid coronavirus lockdown.
A division bench of Justices AK Jayasankaran Nambiar and Shaji P Chaly asked the Centre to inform it about any policy decision taken with respect to allowing the return of Indians from abroad in the light of the pandemic and slated the matter for further hearing on April 17.
The court, referring to an advisory by the Government of India, observed that it is advisable for Indians in foreign countries to stay there at the moment, and wait for better times to return and said that "the state needs to be on guard, and be cautious about letting persons from abroad coming at this juncture."
The bench then asked the Central Government to apprise it about the welfare measures taken by the Indian Embassy at UAE for the well-being of citizens there. "Let's not question the wisdom of the Centre at this stage. We will seek a status report from them," it observed.
The petition, filed by Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre in Dubai and a UAE based travel service provider, sought directions to the Union Ministry of External Affairs and Civil Aviation for permission to evacuate Indian citizens stranded in UAE.
The plea said that the plea is of utmost urgency as many citizens stranded in UAE are on tourist visas or on transit visas and have already gone beyond their permitted period of stay.
It said that it is averred that there are other categories of citizens who because of their entitlement of leave from work, as also certain other categories require immediate medical attention and are also stranded in UAE.
"The petitioners had communicated this to Counsel General of India in Dubai who acknowledged the fact and also has stated that the Indian embassy in UAE is awaiting permission from New Delhi. The petitioners have also represented to the Ministry for External Affairs as also the Chief Minister of Kerala. But no positive action has come so far", the plea said.
It said that the petitioners are not asking for a direction to the Union of India to operate a chartered flight to evacuate the stranded citizens, as Emirates Airlines, which is the official airline of the Dubai government has expressed its willingness to operate flights to India subject to getting permission from the Indian government.
"It had come out in the news that Air India had operated flights from various situations in India including cochin to evacuate the stranded German citizens back to Germany. It had also come in the news that the Government of Oman has charted a flight to take their citizens back to their country," the petition added.