India dispatch: Modi government takes neutral position on Ukraine while SCI supports returning students
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India dispatch: Modi government takes neutral position on Ukraine while SCI supports returning students

From New Delhi, India Chief Correspondent Neelabh Bist reports for JURIST on India’s posture in the current Ukraine crisis, and legal developments relating to the return of Indian students and other nationals from Ukraine. 

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is seeking support from various nations, including India, to help him oppose the Russian invasion of Ukraine. A couple of days after the invasion, he tweeted that he had briefed Indian Prime Ministe Narendra Modi about events and had sought “political support” from India in the Security Council.

So far, however, India is taking a neutral and balanced approach while dealing with this great international issue. It is trying to find a middle ground and is in touch with all relevant parties to foster dialogue and diplomacy to defuse the crisis. Prime Minister Modi has spoken to both President Zelenskyy and Russia’s Vladimir Putin expressing concern over the large-scale violence. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of India has expressed deep anguish about the loss of life and property in the ongoing conflict and has called for an immediate cessation of hostilities. India also abstained from voting on the recent United Nations Security Council resolution to condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

For its part, Ukraine has also urged India to use its influence over Russia to cease its “military aggression”. India has numerous times called for respecting “sovereignty and territorial integrity” of states and have sought for immediate cessation of “violence and hostilities”.

India has been in constant touch with both Russian and Ukrainian Governments regarding safe return of its citizens back to the country.  On 3rd March, 2022, the Supreme Court of India agreed to take up a plea seeking protection and immediate evacuation of Indian students and families stranded in Ukraine amid the Russian invasion. The petition also sought directions from the Indian Government to ensure that essential and emergency food supplies and medical and lodging facilities be provided to the stranded Indians. The Chief Justice of India noted that the Government of India is already taking effective diplomatic steps and measures to help those stranded in the war-hit country. But the court nontheless urged the Attorney General of India to use his good offices to help the stranded students, stating that few of them have come to the court for help themselves.

In the interest of the Indian medical students returning from Ukraine who had to discontinue their studies due to the ongoing war in the region, another Public Interest Litigation has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking directions to accommodate the said students by permitting them to complete their education in the Indian Medical Colleges with appropriate syllabus and degree as an emergency measure.