On Tuesday, the Supreme Court while hearing a petition seeking evacuation of Indian citizens stranded in the United States, said that they cannot be brought back amid the coronavirus lockdown. A three-judge bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said that the Indian citizens stranded in the US cannot be brought no matter how much we want. Earlier, a nodal officer had been appointed in New York to offer assistance to Indians stranded in the US due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Petitioner and advocate Vibha Dutta Makhija said that there is no guarantee of visas getting extended as the application for extension of visas costs around 500 dollars.
"Assistance is being given to them. They are spread across the US. They cannot be brought back. US government is extending visas. Let's wait for some time," the court said.
The apex court said that it cannot control the decision of a foreign government and added that the Indian government can request the US government to not create hurdles in the visa extension process.
"We have a list of 110 people in dire need of help. Helplines are there. The government has said they will consider evacuation on a case by case basis. Evacuations have been done before. There needs to be fairness," Makhija told the court.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that evacuations were done earlier and added that it has now been stopped internationally. "Each country is trying to do its best to do and act. Why don't you understand?" Justice Kaul said and observed we are not in a position to direct anything at this time.
US President Donald Trump has disclosed the three-phased plan to re-open the country and give the economy a boost. Giving most control over the decision to the state governors, Trump administration has chosen to shelter more vulnerable individuals from the risk of contracting COVID-19 disease, instead of continuing the "blanket shutdown". The White House has released the entire plan in three phases based on state or regional “gating criteria”.