Till next hearing, SC bars deportation of Rohingyas

New Delhi, Oct 13: Whether Rohingyas are illegal immigrants or refugees who fled Myanmmar and came to India for shelter is an ongoing debate, and the Supreme Court is yet to give a final verdict on this issue. But till that time no Rohinya Muslim can be deported.

Supreme Court observed that no Rohingya refugees should be deported until the next date of hearing in the case. Supreme Court said if the Centre takes any kind of contingency plan, it needs to inform this court.

Supreme Court said, "We have to strike a balance. It is not an ordinary case. The issue involves human rights of many. National importance cannot be secondary an at the same time human rights of Rohingyas should be kept in mind.

ASG Tushar Mehta, arguing for the Centre, told 3-judge bench of SC "this is an issue involving international ramifications"

A Rohingya petitioner had told the Supreme Court that they were not illegal immigrants but refugees who fled Myanmar and came to India for shelter in wake of their persecution on the grounds of their religion and community identity and were entitled to all protection under the international conventions on refugees and treaties. 

Contesting the Central government's stand that they being foreign nationals enjoyed no protection under the Indian Constitution, Rohingya refugee Mohammad Salimullah, who has moved the top court, seeking its protection from being deported said that protection under Article 14 - guaranteeing equality before law and Article 21 - guaranteeing protection of life and liberty was available to both Indian citizens and non-citizens alike.

In his rejoinder to the Central government's affidavit, he said: "Rohingya are not involved in any act of militancy. They are a fleeing persecuted ethnic minority whose only claim is to peaceful asylum. Any individual case of involvement in militancy may be dealt with by the governmental in accordance with the law of the land... 

"...there cannot be a general assumption that entire Rohingya community in India is involved in militancy related activities."

Denying the Central government's assertion that some of the Rohingyas were involved with ISI/ISIS, petitioner Salimullah described this as a "mere assumption" and in this context, referred to concern expressed by UNHCR that "States may be inclined to expel groups or individuals based on religious, ethnic or national origin or political affiliation, on mere assumption that they may be involved in terrorism".

Arguing that there could not be any blanket restriction on the movement of Rohingya or their deportation, Salimullah said that "since it is clear that these Rohingya are helpless and have fled prosecution in their home country and cannot thus be sent back to the place where they fear bodily harm or threat to their lives"

News24Bureau with Agencies