The Indian government is operating a massive evacuation of its citizens without any due consideration to vulnerable groups and their health condition.
A petition has been filed at High Court of Kerala on behalf of an Indian citizen and another OCI holder seeking direct flight to Kerala. Air India is currently only operating flights via Delhi/Mumbai with feeder flights to Kochi, in Kerala. This is not a safe option for several vulnerable people.
The first petitioner is the mother of Mr. Shamjith, an OCI holder residing in the United Kingdom and the second Petitioner is a 78 years old senior citizen Mr P N Skaria, whose wife (68 year old Mariamma) is on a visit in the United Kingdom.
The first petitioner is distressed by the plight of her son and the second petitioner is aggrieved by the plight of his and wife who are stranded in the United Kingdom due to the restrictions on international air traffic owing to the ongoing pandemic left with no option other than to take the flights scheduled to Kerala only after stopping over in Delhi and Mumbai. They are seeking for a direct flight from London to Kochi under the Vande Bharat Mission for safe travel to Kerala.
The first petitioner’s husband is critically ill with cancer and her son a cancer survivor in the UK, wants to visit his father. He is unwilling to take the risk of infection by going via a feeder flight from Delhi/Mumbai. At the same time his father’s last wish is to see him before he dies.
The second petitioner and his wife are senior citizens and in the high risk group of being infected with COVID-19 and not comfortable with scheduled flights a flight from London and change two flights before reaching their destination.
They allege that the government of India is duty bound to evacuate the stranded Indians in the UK through the best possible safest mode of transportation during a pandemic situation. Note that British Airways operated a direct evacuation flight from Kerala to the UK.
Even though there are 7 international airports in India with 3 international airports in Kerala itself, no direct flight is allotted to the Keralites who are stranded in the UK. Allowing flights only to Delhi from the UK is discriminatory and illegal.
The petitioners pointed out that there are more than 300 Keralites who are stranded in the UK in similar situation but are left with no other option than to board the flights provided under Vande Bharat Mission. There are no direct repatriation flight provided to Kerala and all the passengers are mandatorily required to alight at Delhi/Mumbai and Mumbai.
Flights via Delhi and Mumbai airport increase the risk of infection and this is not an acceptable option for vulnerable groups and people with anxiety and other mental issues as well.
The petitioners are also part of a group of similarly concerned Keralites who urgently need to travel to Kerala, but cannot afford the additional risks of infection by transiting through other domestic airports.
On behalf of the petitioners, Advocate Anitha Mathai Muthirenthy, filed the case at the High Court of Kerala on 23rd June, co-ordinated by Shaima Ammal of Ammal Solictors in the UK.
Shaima Ammal, who is a Solicitor in the UK and Advocate of Kerala High Court, organised and submitted representations on behalf of the group, to the Indian High Commission India in London, Ministry of External Affairs and Civil Aviation and coordinated filing of the petition with Kerala High Court.
The High court has admitted the case and immediately sought a response from the Indian government. The case is now listed for Monday, 29th June 2020.