Supreme Court bars deportation of Rohingya Muslims until case hearing, says govt can't be blind to plight of women, kids

The Supreme Court on Friday deferred the hearing on the deportation of Rohingya Muslims in India to 21 November. It, however, allowed petitioners to approach it in case of contingency.

The apex court also said the government should be sensitive to the Rohingyas and cannot be oblivious to the plight of innocent women and children, reported CNN-News18. It further rapped the government saying that there is a need to strike a balance between human rights and national security.

"Children and women do not know anything about it. As a constitutional court, we cannot be oblivious to it. We expect that the executive will not be oblivious to it," the bench said.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The court said, "We have to strike a balance. It is not an ordinary case. The issue involves human rights of many," as per ANI. 

Furthermore, the Supreme Court also added that Rohingyas cannot be deported till the matter is being heard in the court. "Do not deport. You take action if something wrong is found," the court told the government.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and  Y Chandrachud said the issue was of great magnitude and therefore, the state has a big role.

The top court made it clear that there was a need for holistic hearing and it is neither going to be swayed by the arguments of senior lawyer Fali S Nariman, who is representing the petitioners, nor by any other senior counsel and the submissions have to go by the letter of the law.

"We will not permit any emotional arguments," the bench observed.

During the brief hearing, the bench suggested to the Centre not to deport the Rohingya Muslim refugees, but Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta requested that it should not be written in the order as anything coming on record will have an international ramification.

"We know our responsibility," the ASG said.

At the outset, Nariman argued about the rights of the Rohingyas and said no person can be deprived of the liberty granted under the Constitution and other statutes.

He referred to the Union home ministry's order and said though it says that the Myanmar issue might aggravate the security challenge, it does not say that all Rohingyas are terrorists.

Observing that Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju has given a statement about government's decision to deport all Rohingyas from India, Nariman said "such an order ought not have been passed. This is the essence of the whole case."

He also claimed the government said something abroad, but within the country, it changes its stance and has passed a "blanket order". Referring to the statutes, he said the point was not about the question of justiciability as when fundamental rights were invoked, one may be either right or wrong.

Nariman said he has no objection to government agencies going against terrorist elements among the Rohingyas but his client was not a terrorist and there was no such allegation.

The apex court is hearing a plea filed by two Rohingya immigrants, Mohammad Salimullah and Mohammad Shaqir, who are registered as refugees under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). They claimed that they have taken refuge in India after escaping from Myanmar due to widespread discrimination, violence and bloodshed against the community there. The immigrants also challenged their deportation on grounds of violation of international human rights conventions.

The bench said the whole issue of Rohingya Muslims has to be looked at from various angles like national security, economic interest, labour interest and also the protection of children, women, sick and innocent persons.

The top court also said that "constitutional ethos makes us lean sympathetically towards humanitarian issues".

The issue came to the fore after the home ministry in July stated that illegal immigrants such as the Rohingya posed grave security challenges as they might be recruited by terror groups, and asked the state governments to identify and deport them.

In an affidavit filed in the apex court registry, the NDA government said the fundamental right to reside and settle in any part of the country is available to citizens only and illegal refugees cannot invoke the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to enforce the right.

The home ministry also directed the state governments to set up a task force at district level to identify and deport "illegally-staying foreign nationals".

The government had told the parliament on 9 August that according to available data, more than 14,000 Rohingya, registered with the UNHCR, were staying in India.

With inputs from PTI


Published Date: Oct 13, 2017 03:26 pm | Updated Date: Oct 13, 2017 08:53 pm


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