SC reserves verdict on plea for immediate release of Rohingya refugees in Jammu
Country can't be capital for illegal immigrants, Centre tells court
New Delhi: The country cannot be the “capital” for illegal immigrants, the Centre told the Supreme Court which on Friday reserved order on a fresh plea seeking directions for immediate release of detained Rohingya refugees in Jammu and restrain the government from implementing any order deporting them to Myanmar.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde refused to hear at this stage the intervention application filed by United Nations special rapporteur in the matter.
“We will not hear you today. There is serious objection to it,” the bench told the counsel appearing for the UN special rapporteur.
“We are closing it for order,” said the bench, which also comprised Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, after hearing submissions on the fresh plea.
During the arguments, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, said Rohingya children were subjected to killing, maiming and sexual exploitation and Military in Myanmar has failed to respect international humanitarian law.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said he is stating the problems which persist in Myanmar.
He said they are not refugees at all and this is the second round of litigation as the top court had earlier dismissed an application filed by the petitioner.
“There was a similar application for Assam earlier. They (petitioners) wanted that no Rohingya be deported, we had said that we will follow the law. They are illegal immigrants. We are always in touch with Myanmar and when they confirm that the individual is their citizen, then only deportation can take place,” he said.
The bench asked can it be said that the government will deport only when Myanmar accepts.
Mehta said yes, the government cannot send an Afghan national to Myanmar.
“We cannot be the capital for all illegal immigrants,” Mehta said.
Bhushan referred to a verdict of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and argued it has said that Myanmar has not presented any concrete measures aimed specifically at recognising the rights of the Rohingyas to exist as a protected group.
He said that Jammu and Kashmir administration has detained Rohingyas in Jammu, who have refugee cards and they will soon be deported.
“I am seeking directions to not detain and deport these Rohingyas to Myanmar under Article 21 of the Constitution,” Bhushan said.
During the hearing, the counsel appearing for the United Nations special rapporteur referred to the application filed by him.
The application filed earlier by the United Nations special rapporteur has said that the Centre’s decision for mass deportation of Rohingya as being “impermissible under international human rights law” and India should ensure that the Rohingyas enjoy “equality before the law and equal access to judicial remedies and individualised forms of due process”.
On March 11, an interim plea was filed in a pending PIL seeking immediate release of detained Rohingya refugees in Jammu.
The plea also sought direction to Ministry of Home Affairs to expeditiously grant refugee identification cards through the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) for Rohingyas in informal camps.
The application filed by Mohammad Salimullah, a Rohingya refugee through advocate Prashant Bhushan, has said that it is filed in public interest in order to secure and protect the right against deportation of refugees in India.
The plea said that it is filed to protect rights guaranteed under Article 14 and Article 21, read with Article 51(c) of the Constitution, against the deportation of Rohingya refugees who have taken refuge in India after escaping widespread violence and discrimination against their community in Myanmar.
“Release the detained Rohingya refugees immediately and direct the Union Territory government and the Ministry of Home Affairs to expeditiously grant Refugee identification cards through the FRRO for Rohingyas in informal camps,” it said.
It sought direction to the Union Government to refrain from implementing any orders on deporting Rohingya refugees, who have been detained in the sub jail in Jammu.
Violent attacks allegedly by Myanmar army men have led to an exodus of Rohingya tribals from the western Rakhine state in that country to India and Bangladesh.
Many of them, who had fled to India after the earlier spate of violence, have settled in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR and Rajasthan.