Minister issues stark warning to Australians in India

Australians in India have been warned not to get on a plane home if they want to avoid five years in jail and a $60,000 fine.

Direct commercial flights from India were banned last week as the nation of 1.4 billion battles a surge in illnesses and death, with 357,229 fresh cases on Tuesday.

The government also took the 'extraordinary' step of threatening anyone who gets around the ban with fines and jail under the Biosecurity Act.  

Direct commercial flights from India were banned last week. Pictured: A cremation site in New Delhi

Direct commercial flights from India were banned last week. Pictured: A site in New Delhi

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Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the powers would not be used and no-one would be jailed.

But Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said the best way to avoid jail is to obey the rules.

'So, I understand the concerns that people have at the moment and quite frankly the best way to avoid the prospect of any fines, any sanctions, is to not get on a plane and come here in the first instance,' she told the ABC.

'Would I like to see the sanction applied? Clearly not. The best way for that not to happen, as I've just said, is for people not to get on those planes.'

The ban is legally contentious because international human rights law states that 'no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country'. 

Minister Andrews defended the ban, saying: It's a balance of making sure that we are protecting all of the Australians who are here now. 

'We have done so well in making sure that Australians are safe and secure and that's a big credit to all Australians. 

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said the best way to avoid jail is to obey the rules

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said the best way to avoid jail is to obey the rules

'What this government is not going to do is put Australians at risk. We will look to reopen as soon as we can. We are

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