The Supreme Court dismissed a Public Interest Litigation by an organisation, ‘Kerala Pravasi Sangham‘ seeking directions to the Centre; to frame proper guidelines for rehabilitation package to all those who returned from abroad. Explicitly, the plea sought a direction to the Centre to set up a ‘special purpose fund’. For utilizing approximately 15% of foreign remittances by Indian citizens living abroad for financial aid of the people; in view of the exponential increase in the number of COVID-19 patients.
The organisation sought speedy evacuation and return of Indian citizens. The general secretary of the organisation K V Abdul Khader maintained that as per the RBI, a total of Rs 4,47,586 crore has already been injected in our financial system only as foreign remittances. Among this, 19% contribution is by people from Kerala.
Contentions of the Petition on “Special Purpose Fund”
The petition filed by advocate Deepak Prakash stated that the Union government should also utilize the Indian Community Welfare Fund at all India missions; to meet the expenditure for providing proper welfare and healthcare amenities to all distressed citizens. Senior advocate P V Surendranath appeared for the petitioner.
“For curbing the spread of COVID-19, various countries-imposed lockdown in the month of March; rendering temporary suspension of workplaces and employment. This has caused widespread disruption in the lives of Indian citizens at home and abroad,” it said. The petitioner also affirmed that it was a reasonable expectation of people that their lives and health would be protected by utilizing the money they brought into the country. Above all, the petition says the lives of various Indian migrant citizens remain in danger due to the lockdown in several Gulf countries. Explaining, that they were forced to quarantine in labour accommodation camps; which are extremely overcrowded without adequate water and sanitation facilities, making them prone to the virus.
Decision of the Supreme Court
Surendranath asserted that lakhs of people remain stranded but the help reaches a few thousand only. But the bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and B R Gavai stated that the Centre has already started evacuating people from abroad. Accordingly, the bench held, “Let the government decide where to start. Everyone wants his say on COVID-19 situation”. Thus, the bench declined to entertain the petition.