Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Supreme Court says human rights of Rohingya refugees can not be ignored

Supreme Court says human rights of Rohingya refugees can not be ignored

Last month, the government had filed an affidavit in the apex court in which it said that Rohingyas are illegal immigrants and pose a threat to the national security. "The role of the state has to be multi-pronged and must be humanitarian", Chief Justice Misra observed.

However, it also allowed petitioners to approach it in case of any contingency.

The Supreme Court said the Rohingya Muslims' possible eviction was a very important matter involving issues of national security as well as the human rights of the people, many of whom are women, children and old people.

The Rohingya approached the Supreme Court after India's junior home affairs minister, Kiren Rijiju, told Parliament in August that state governments had been asked to identify and deport people who entered the country illegally, including Rohingya.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that "this is an issue involving worldwide ramifications".

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 global ramification. Citing intelligence inputs, it has claimed that Rohingyas figure in the "suspected sinister designs" of Pakistan's notorious spy agency the ISI, and terror outfit ISIS.

There are an estimated 40,000 Rohingya refugees in the country, a large number of them living in squalid camps in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR and Rajasthan.

Appearing for the petitioners, Fali Nariman contended that the Rohingyas were entitled to the Fundamental Right to Life and Liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution as these rights are applicable equally to citizens and non-citizens of India. "However, this should not be used an excuse to mete out collective punishment to an entire community", it says, adding that India must "exert its diplomatic clout to pressurise the Government of Myanmar to end the security crackdown in Rakhine".

"This is simply not the case and the evidence to support these assertions has not held up". The Central government is describing Rohingyas as illegal immigrants and refusing to treat them as refugees. It is in India's national interest to ensure that all hostilities against the Rohingya community come to an immediate halt.

The court said, "We have to strike a balance".

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