SC to hear plea challenging deportation of Rohingya Muslims on 13 October

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday decided to hear on 13 October the petition filed by Rohingya Muslims challenging the government's stand to deport them back to Myanmar.

File image of the Supreme Court. AP

File image of the Supreme Court. AP

The apex court said it will hear the arguments only on the points of law and asked the parties to desist from advancing emotional arguments as the matter concerned humanitarian cause and humanity, which required to be heard with mutual respect.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra asked both the parties, the Centre and the two Rohingya Muslim refugees who have filed the petition, to compile all documents and international conventions for assisting the court.

The bench, also comprising justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, said it will hear in details various aspects arising out of the matter, including the government's stand that the petition was not justiciable in the court of law.

Senior advocate Fali S Nariman, appearing for the petitioner Rohingya refugees, opposed the government stand and said the petition under Article 32 was maintainable as the Constitution guaranteed individual rights.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that the government would not like the matter to be heard in a piecemeal manner as it has wide ramifications and added that it would prefer a day for detailed hearing.

He sought listing of the matters on some other date for a detailed hearing and submitted that the government would not like the matter to be heard in a piecemeal manner as it had wide ramifications.

Senior advocate Fali S Nariman, appearing for Rohingya immigrants Mohammad Salimullah and Mohammad Shaqir, started his submission on a lighter vein, saying "I am the original refugee from Burma" and had migrated from "British Burma to British India".

He assailed the Centre's stand that illegal refugees cannot claim protection of their fundamental rights under the Constitution as it would adversely affect the rights of Indian citizens and that the issue was "not justiciable".

"Humanitarian concern for children, women, the sick outweigh justiciability," Nariman said, adding the objection that the matter was "not justiciable" was very serious as the Constitution protects the rights of non-citizens as well.

"The rights of the persons who happen to be in India deserve constitutional protection," he said, adding that the government was contradicting itself while referring to a past notification on ways to deal with migrants, mostly Hindus and Buddhists, from Pakistan and Bangladesh who had suffered persecution.

He said terrorists from any group should be dealt with as per the law but simultaneously, innocent refugees including women and children need protection.

A terse response of senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for the National Human Rights Commission, to the Centre's objections was strongly contested by ASG Mehta who said "one does not need to abuse to counter".

Summing up the arguments advanced by Nariman, the bench said the government cannot "simply paint" everybody as a terrorist and that India is a signatory to various international conventions.

On the issue of non-justiciabilty, the bench observed that the court should be "very slow in abdicating its jurisdiction".

Earlier, the Centre in an affidavit had termed Rohingya refugees as "illegal" immigrants and said some of them were part of a "sinister" design of Pakistan's ISI and terror groups such as the Islamic State, whose presence in the country will pose a "serious" national security threat.

The affidavit was submitted in response to a plea filed by the Rohingya immigrants, claiming they had taken refuge in India after escaping from Myanmar due to widespread discrimination, violence and bloodshed against the community there.

Various other petitions, including those by former RSS ideologue and Rashtriya Swabhiman Andolan leader KN Govindacharaya, the West Bengal child rights body and BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, have been filed in the apex court on the issue.

Updated Date: Oct 03, 2017 20:37 PM

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