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New plea in Supreme Court seeks repatriation of Indian migrants from Kuwait in ‘chartered flights’

Move to repatriate beneficiaries of amnesty

KUWAIT CITY, May 13: A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in the Supreme Court of India seeks repatriation of Indian migrants from Kuwait through a specific direction permitting only chartered flights from the State of Kuwait to land at Indian airports, reports livelaw.in.

India’s Supreme Court building is pictured in New Delhi (AFP)

Apprising the court of Kuwait’s decision to allow evacuation of those who do not have valid residency permits in Kuwait, without a fine till April 30, the petition seeks repatriation of only those Indians who are beneficiaries of this amnesty.
“The said initiative allowed such people to leave the country without paying any fines. Thousands of Indian nationals surrendered to the Amnesty Felicitation Centers (AFC) are kept in the temporary amnesty deportee camps since the 16 of April for their safe repatriation. Pertinently, due to the uncertainties looming over the continuation of the national lockdown and air travel ban, all such Indian citizens stranded in Amnesty Felicitation Centers (AFC), Kuwait have been suffering severe hardships including anxiety, trauma and stress,” reads the plea.

The petitioner, a Kerala-based social activist for migration rights, Thomas Mathew Kadavil, has submitted that expeditious evacuation of Indians stranded abroad is the need of the hour because of the persistently increasing medical crisis caused by the outbreak of COVID-19.

He raises concerns regarding the mental well-being of such migrants who tried to avail benefits of amnesty but could not reach the AFC on time owing to delays on part of the Indian Embassy in issuing emergency certificates.

Citing ‘wrong policies and human trafficking’, Kadavil apprises the court that around 40,000 Indians fall in the category of residency law violators, of which about 25,000 belong to the category of people absconding from work.

“Majority of the Indian citizens stranded in these camps are not getting decent food, accommodation and medical facilities because the unprecedented crisis brought by COVID-19.
In present situation, most of the countries are prioritizing the health and safety of their own citizens over the citizens of other countries, thereby leading to immense mental trauma being faced by such Indian nationals which is only adding to the hardships already being faced by them.”

Referring to the latest 2-week extension of the nationwide lockdown, the petitioner asserts that there’s a great deal of uncertainty about the situation and, as a result, these Indians could be stranded indefinitely.

Therefore, it is urged in the interest of justice that the ‘Centre’ could prepare a detailed ‘Evacuation Plan’ in consultation with the respective governments to carry out the same without compromising its policy to restrict air transport. Buttressing this submission, it is averred that such a plan would be in sync with Clause 6 (c) of the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Order dated April 24, modified on May 3.

“The above government order clearly permits evacuation operations without changing its stringent policy of a complete restriction on air transport services, specifically international flights.” It is pursuantly informed that Kuwait has pursued India to allow a special chartered flight, which India has been declining due to its precautionary travel restrictions to combat COVID-19.

However, the petitioner only seeks a limited prayer to allow such flights to be given landing permission without violating the strict air travel ban. “Since there is ban on international flights arrivals in India, State of Kuwait is pursuing India to allow special charted flights, however, India declining owing to precautionary measure to combat COVID-19… Petition seeks a limited prayer that permission to land chartered flights from Kuwait with Indian migrants who availed amnesty declared by State of Kuwait.

In order to protect the health and safety of such persons, evacuation of Indians must be prioritized on the basis of severity of the cases.” The petition has been filed through Advocate Deepak Prakash.

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