'Indian consulate at New York not assisting Indian citizens'
The J&K High Court Monday directed the Ministry of External Affairs to look into the aspect of the evacuation of persons who are stranded abroad and need to be evacuated to India.
The division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Sindhu Sharma directed the Ministry of External Affairs to address the issue on a priority basis.
"We expect that these issues are addressed on a priority by the Ministry of External Affairs and appropriate steps are required to be taken at the earliest," the bench said.
It also directed the Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, to look into the matter of the difficulties being faced by the Indian nationals in the USA and ensure that their essential needs were provided for.
The directions were passed after advocate, Karman Singh Johal through an email brought on record the plight of an Indian citizen, studying at New York University, USA, who along with other Indian citizens were stranded in the United States.
The court after perusing the email sent by Karman Singh Johal remarked that it cannot be denied that Indian citizens, wherever located, need to be cared for and provided with essential needs.
Johal in an email raised a grievance that the Consulate of India at New York was not assisting the Indian citizens stranded in the USA and pleaded for their evacuation.
The court directed the Indian consulate to assure every assistance to the Indian nationals stranded abroad.
Another email, sent by lawyer Mohammad Shaqib Shah, pleaded for publicising certain information as well as provision of certain facilities to the healthcare facilitators.
The court after going through the email observed that there was substance in the suggestions and directed the Registrar Judicial to forward the said email to Secretaries of Department of Health and Medical Education, and Department of Information and Technology.
The secretaries of these departments were directed to examine the suggestions and take steps which are deemed fit to remove deficiencies in the existing schemes.
Meanwhile, the amicus curiae, Monika Kohli, submitted that, according to a report, due to the sudden lockdown about 400 pilgrims from Bihar were stranded at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine, Katra.
Kohli further submitted that these pilgrims were being asked to vacate their current lodgings and that immediate steps needed to be taken in view of current lockdown in Jammu Kashmir.
The bench after hearing the counsel, directed the Chief Executive Officer, Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, and Deputy Commissioner, Reasi to ensure that these pilgrims were not asked to vacate their current lodgings and their needs were fully provided till the lockdown persists.
"All notifications and directions issued by the Government of India and J&K government to ensure that there is no dislodging of people from their habitations and also provisions or facilities, are strictly complied with," the bench directed.
The petitioner counsel, Syed Faisal Qadri, expressed apprehensions regarding the security and availability of the basic facilities to the migrant labourers.
In this regard, the court, keeping in view the restrictions, directed both the GoI and J&K government to ensure it was strictly enforced and accommodation, healthcare and the needs of the migrant labourers, if not already provided for, were addressed.
Complying the previous directions, the Chief General Manager, BSNL, Ashok Kumar Srivastava informed the court that the financial estimate of Rs 33.64 lakh was kept for provision of the leaseline connections to 24 locations of Juvenile Justice Boards and Observation Homes has been submitted to the Mission Director, ICPS as well as Special Secretary to Social Welfare Department, J&K.
The court directed the authorities to scrutinise the estimates submitted by the BSNL and inform the BSNL on the proposal at the earliest.
The government counsel, Amit Gupta, informed the court that back up facilities in the nature of inverters in the JJBs had been provided so that video conferencing on available apparatus could be conducted.
Gupta informed the court that water was being supplied by more than 200 tankers regularly in Jammu and also care was being taken of all the institutions including orphanages, shelter homes, and old-age homes.
Regarding the availability of the connectivity or the net facilities to the court sites within J&K and any additional courts in Ladakh, Registrar (IT), Shahzad Azeem, informed the court on account of access to the courts being not available, the verification, as was directed by the court in last order could not be effected.
The court was further informed that a Core Group had been constituted, consisting of Registrar (IT), representatives of NIC, BSNL and the concerned judges.
In this regard, Chief General Manager, BSNL, submitted that the needful would be done and all issues regarding availability of the connectivity to all courts in J&K and Ladakh would be completed at the earliest.
The matter would be taken up for hearing on April 3.