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Plea in Delhi HC for safe return of Indian citizens from abroad amid COVID-19

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A Writ Petition is filed before the Delhi High Court seeking directions to the Government to take steps for safe and secure return of Indian citizens from foreign countries.

The case was listed for hearing before the division bench comprising of Justice Manmohan and Justice Sanjeev Narula, wherein the petitioner is the mother of the daughter who is currently stranded in the New York amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The petition says that petitioner’s daughter is employed in New York City with a design studio, Virginia Sin Enterprises, having its studio and office in Brooklyn, New York since August, 2017 and her H-1B visa had been duly sponsored by her employer. Petitioner’s daughter travelled to New Delhi to visit her family on Feb 14, 2020 and was scheduled to return to New York City on Feb 29, 2020 but was tragically bitten by a dog that same day. Despite the physical injury and mental stress, she flew back to New York on 9th of March, 2020 to resume her job. Till that time, COVID-19 pandemic broke out which was at that time centred in China as well as other parts of world including New York. The daughter resumed her job on 10th of March. In the meanwhile, the New York City became a hub of the corona virus, and most businesses had to go into a lockdown. To her utter shock and dismay, she was asked to resign with immediate effect, i.e. from March 20, 2020.

Subsequently, on 19th March, 2020, the Government of India announced the lockdown of Indian airspace where all commercial flights have been banned. The said ban was extended up to 14th of April. The petitioner also said that her daughter is now no longer employed and has only a grace period of 60 days from March 20, 2020 to leave USA under conditions of her H1b visa. She has been self-quarantining for the last 14 days in an apartment all alone in Brooklyn, New York City.

After making several representations to the Central Government regarding the aforesaid issue the reply was given to the petitioner from the Government that to request her daughter to be in contact with consulate.

The petitioner said that there are young Indians working in different foreign jurisdictions under temporary work visas are also in the highly vulnerable category that have no resources to turn to, and now are facing acute economic, physical and emotional distress. While the daughter of the Petitioner, and many other young Indians are committed to remain employed in USA, the current employment atmosphere is in a lock-down.

The Government Counsel in today’s hearing told Court that the accommodation will be provided to the petitioner’s daughter on reduced rates in a safer zone.

The High Court has adjourned the case for four weeks.

-India Legal Bureau

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