The Supreme Court on Friday sought a status report from the Centre on measures it has taken or proposes “to alleviate the hardship…faced” by a group of Muslim pilgrims from India who are stranded in Iran, and
of whom about 250 have been tested positive for the coronavirus.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Surya Kant, which heard the plea via video-conferencing, issued notice to the Centre.
It said “the contents of the petition under Article 32 of the Constitution indicate that there is an urgent need for humanitarian assistance to be provided to Indian citizens who are stranded in Qom”.
The bench asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to place the status report before it and to assist the court.
“We hope and trust that in the meantime all necessary steps that are required to protect the welfare of these citizens will be adopted and a suitable plan of action will be chalked out in consultation with all the concerned authorities, including the Indian Embassy in Iran.”
The court was hearing a plea by a Ladakh resident Mustafa MH who said that his relatives who were part of the group of pilgrims were stuck in the city of Qom and urged the court to direct the government to do the needful to evacuate them.
Appearing for the petitioner, Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde said those stranded were part of a group of people who had left for the three-month pilgrimage in December 2019. They were scheduled to return in batches. Majority of the rest were to return on March 6 but could not leave because of the coronavirus.
The petition said the Centre had evacuated around 389 people, including students from Iran and a team of doctors had conducted tests on about 850.
It added that “the pilgrims include old aged persons, who suffer from ailments… and require regular medical care” but were not getting proper medication due the prevailing situation.
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