The human race is still to learn its lesson that negotiations are more powerful than weapons, the Supreme Court remarked on Friday as it took stock of evacuation of a batch of Indian nationals trying to flee Ukraine after the Russian invasion of the European country.
A bench headed by chief justice of India NV Ramana called the war “unfortunate” while observing that the judge may have a little or no role in such situations but the anxiety of the court is to ensure the safety of students stranded in Ukraine.
“Unfortunately, we have not learned our lesson from history. The human race is still fighting… still not realizing that weapons and wars are no solution…we know every issue can be resolved through negotiations,” rued the bench, which also included justices AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli.
The bench, which was hearing two petitions on immediate evacuation of Indian nationals from war-hit Ukraine, added: “We have no say in these issues but the anxiety is to save students… concerns of their parents.”
On Thursday, the bench had asked attorney general KK Venugopal to “use his good office” for facilitating the movement of a batch of Indian nationals, reportedly being prevented from crossing into Romania from Ukraine for flying back home.
Observing that it cannot ask Russian president Vladimir to stop the war against Ukraine, the bench had remarked that the court is concerned about the safety of Indian students stuck in the war zone but would have to rely on steps being taken by the Union government to rescue citizens.
On Friday, AG Venugopal informed the bench that of around 25,000 Indian nationals stuck in Ukraine, more than 17,000 have been safely flown back to India while the Union government is ensuring that the remaining 7,000 are also evacuated swiftly.
Specifically to the petition by a Respond girl student from Kerala who is stuck with 200 other Indian students in Ukraine, the AG said that she and 70 others will be flown back to India from Romania on Friday night.
“The Prime Minister had a meeting yesterday and today in the morning too. There is a Union minister in Romania to facilitate evacuation of our citizens and they will all be brught back. We had evacuated around one lakh Indians from Kuwait during the Gulf war,” Venugopal submitted.
The law officer also requested the bench to leave the issue of evacuation to the government. “I would request, leave it to the government of India. There is also a petition before the Rajasthan high court and a large number of petitions will start getting filed if the courts keep entertaining such pleas. The government of India is in a position to tackle this problem,” added the AG.
At this, the bench retorted that the office of AG should inform the law officers in all the high courts that the Supreme Court is already seized of the matter. “There is no point in high courts entertaining such petitions when we are already hearing this,” the court told Venugopal.
The bench also appreciated Venugopal’s intervention in the matter as it came up with a suggestion. “Why don’t you (central government) have a helpline for parents to know the status and contact their children. Some states have this. There can be a centralized helpline,” it said.
Venugopal, however, responded that the court should acknowledge that the government is equally concerned about the safety of its nationals
But the bench replied: “We appreciate your efforts but at the same time, we are also concerned about anxiety of students, parents, etc.” The court then decided to keep the petitions pending.
Since March 1, several Indian nationals have crossed into Romania from Ukraine. Indian nationals are taking flights from Bucharest to fly back. Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, who is one of the ministers to foreign nations to coordinate the return of stuck students in Ukraine, had said in a videoconference on Wednesday that 5,000 Indians were expected to fly back home from Romania by Friday.