On Wednesday The Centre told to the Supreme Court that “Around 250 of the 850 Indian Shia pilgrims in Iran have tested positive for Covid-19 and they were receiving medical treatment there”.
During a hearing conducted via video-conferencing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told a Bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud that the remaining pilgrims had already been flown back to India from Qom, Iran.
The Bench said “the Indian embassy in Iran should constantly monitor the situation to look into the possibility of bringing them back as and when possible”.
While hearing a petition filed by Mustafa MH, a resident of Drass in Kargil, Ladakh, on the issue, the court noted that the government was taking the matter seriously even as senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, representing the petitioner, insisted that the 250 Covid positive Indians could not be left at the mercy of the Iranian authorities.
Tushar Mehta said “all International flights had been cancelled and authorities were waiting for a decision of the Ministry of External Affairs”.
He said “Our embassy at Iran is in touch with the 250 people stranded there. They will be brought back, whenever there is a possibility,”. He also pointed out that many people earlier flown back and sent to Leh had developed Covid symptoms.
Noting that the matter should be left to the government now, the Bench said the” petitioner could raise the issue again, if needed”. The Bench, however, didn’t pass any directions regarding the stranded Indians at this juncture.
Reply sought on safety gear for health staff The SC has asked “the Centre to respond to a PIL, which has sought from the authorities to ensure availability of WHO-approved appropriate personal protective equipment for doctors, nurses, ward boys and other medical and paramedical professionals. Without issuing a formal notice, a Bench asked the Centre to respond to the petition filed by a Nagpur-based doctor”.