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A bench of the SC comprising of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant issued notice to the Central Government on a plea seeking immediate evacuation of the citizens of India who are stranded in Iran, in view of the situation arising out due to spread of COVID-19.

The petition filed by one Mustafa MH, a resident of the Union Territory of Ladakh,  has mentioned in his petition  that his relatives had travelled along with a group of  100 pilgrims and they along with other pilgrims are stranded in Qom, Iran without any health/medical facilities and food supplies. Besides, they have been accommodated in hotel rooms in groups of 4-5.

Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde appearing for the petitioner informed the Court that though the Iranian Government has accommodated the stranded passengers in various hotels, the pilgrims have to bear their own expenses. However, as on date, most of the pilgrims are out of funds and are dependent upon the  benevolence of the locals.

It was further submitted that there may be as many as 250 people within the group of the aforesaid pilgrims who could be positive for COVID-19. Hence in such circumstances, accommodating persons together is a serious health hazard and could lead to disastrous consequences for such pilgrims.

The  petitioner  further informed the court that “about  800 odd Indian citizens are stuck in the city of Qom and are in need of immediate help. In case, urgent help is not provided to these Pilgrims, there are bound to be serious health hazards, which have started to become fatal and has resulted in the death of 2 Pilgrims already.”

The bench requested SG Tushar Mehta to assist the Court and submit a status report on the steps taken and to be taken by the Central government in consultation with all concerned including the Indian embassy in  Iran  to alleviate the hardship which is being faced by the pilgrims. Matter has been listed for hearing on Monday.

-Shaheen Parween

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