Coronavirus: HC issues notice to Centre, DGCA against bar on passenger travel from EU, UK

A bench of Justices J R Midha and I S Mehta issued notice to ministries of health and home affairs and Directorate General of Civil Aviation seeking their stand on the plea.

Published: 20th March 2020 03:58 PM  |   Last Updated: 20th March 2020 07:21 PM   |  A+A-

Passengers seen wearing mask to keep them away from coronavirus at Chennai Airport in on Thursday. (Photo | R Satish Babu/EPS)


NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court Friday sought response of the Centre and aviation regulator DGCA on a plea challenging the Centre's circular prohibiting travel of passengers from European Union, UK and Turkey from March 18 onwards to contain the spread of coronavirus pandemic.

A bench of Justices J R Midha and I S Mehta issued notice to ministries of Health and Home Affairs and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) seeking their stand on the plea by the father of an Indian student stranded in Scotland and unable to return to the country due to the travel ban, which also includes member nations of European Free Trade Association.

The petition, which seeks quashing of the March 16 circular imposing the travel ban, was mentioned before a bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and I S Mehta earlier in the day for urgent hearing.

The bench headed by Justice Mridul, however, declined to hear the matter as his daughter was stranded in the United Kingdom (UK) in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak and directed that it be listed before another bench.

Justice Mridul also asked the central government to consider evacuating Indian citizens stranded in other COVID-19 affected nations as was done in China, but no orders to this effect were passed.

When the matter came up for hearing before the bench headed by Justice Midha, central government standing counsel Amit Mahajan, appearing for the ministries, urged the court to implead the Ministry of Home Affairs as the travel advisory/ban was issued by the Bureau of Immigration which comes under the ministry.

Subsequently, the court made the MHA a party in the case.

The petitioner, Ramesh Chander Goyal, has claimed that Scotland is reeling under the COVID-19 virus outbreak and there is a shortage of food and medical help there.

Goyal said that for the time being his son and nine other Indian students, who are studying at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, are not afflicted by the virus and urged that they be evacuated from there as was done in China and Iran.

His lawyer also told the court that the Indian High Commission there was not doing anything to help the students.

The contentions were strongly opposed by Mahajan who said the students had ample time to return and need not have waited there till now.

He also said everybody in the world was working round the clock to help each other in this time of need and India has been doing all it can to bring back its citizens.

Mahajan further said that the travel restriction was only till March 28.

The bench after hearing both sides listed the matter for further hearing on March 25.

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