“We’re Also Concerned”: Supreme Court To Centre On Ukraine Evacuations

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The Supreme Court while hearing petitions by Indian students in Ukraine who are waiting to be evacuated today took note of the government’s efforts to bring them home, and expressed concerns over their safety.

The government said a group of students stuck at the Romanian border would be flown to India today. The petitioner, Ahana Fathima, is among 72 students who would return home in the same flight, the government’s top lawyer KK Venugopal told the Supreme Court.

“It is unfortunate that we have not learned lessons from history where human race fighting for wars and killing people. And I know that conflict can be resolved by negotiation. Unfortunately, we have no say in these issues. The anxiety right now is to save students,” Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said.

The government’s lawyer said some 17,000 Indians have been evacuated from Ukraine and approximately 7,000 are stranded in the conflict-hit east European nation, where Russian forces have been advancing towards city after city amid heavy bombardment and shelling.

“The Prime Minister held a meeting today about speedy evacuation. The government is as concerned as you are, my lordship,” Mr Venugopal said, adding similar petitions have been filed in some high courts.

To this, the Chief Justice replied, “You may tell all state government lawyers that they need to tell the high courts not to hear the petitions because we are already hearing the matter.”

A second petition filed by Vishal Tiwari, a lawyer, was criticised by the Supreme Court for “filing petitions just to gain popularity.” Mr Tiwari requested for evacuation of students stranded in Ukraine’s second-biggest city Kharkiv, which is under constant Russian bombardment.

“We have seen that you file such petitions and they get dismissed with costs. This is not how one files petitions, just based on news reports. This is a sensitive situation. Do not take advantage or file petitions just to gain popularity,” said the Supreme Court bench also comprising Justice AS Bopanna and Justice Hima Kohli.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court told Mr Venugopal to follow up on the petition of Fatima Ahana, a resident of Karnataka. She has said some 250 students were stranded on the Romanian border, most of whom are girls.

The other petition filed by lawyer Vishal Tiwari sought arrangements for medical facilities, accommodation and food for students trapped in Ukraine till they are able to return home. The petition said online education should be arranged for medical students who returned from Ukraine to save their careers.

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