SC To Hear Petitions Challenging Deportation of Rohingyas On Jan 31
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra today posted all petitions relating to deportation of Muslim Rohingya refugees for detailed hearing on January 31.
Before adjourning the matter, the Chief Justice asked advocate Prashant Bhushan who is appearing for main petitioners challenging the deportation "what the status was?"
Bhushan replied: "The government may not be taking steps to push them(Rohingyas) them back as of now. But they are conducting some surveys".
The bench had on October 13 just stopped short of staying the deportation of Rohingya refugees till it decided the petitions challenging the action but asked the Centre to strike a balance between national security and human rights of the refugees.
“Our constitutional ethos makes us lean sympathetically towards humanitarian issues. It is also important not to ignore national and economic interests while dealing with humanitarian issues”, CJI Misra had told ASG Tushar Mehta adding the court and also government cannot be oblivious of the plight of interest of children and women.
At one stage the bench observed that till the matter is being heard by the court, there should not be any deportation of the refugees.
However the Additional Solicitor General strenuously objected to any such order by the court, saying that it would embarrass the government in the international fora. The court therefore ultimately passed an order saying that in case there is any contingency, the petitioners would be at liberty to approach the court.
Meanwhile, senior lawyer, the legendary Fali S Nariman arguing for the Rohingya community pointed out the Protection of Human Rights Act defines human rights to include not merely fundamental rights or rights under the Indian law but human rights arising out of international conventions to which India is a party.
He also pointed out that the fundamental right to life and liberty under article 21 applies not only to citizens but also to non citizens.
Nariuman observed that the government can’t speak in two voices – one in the UN and international fora and another totally opposite in India and before this court.
India’s stated policy position in International fora and as mentioned throughout in policy statements and notifications, has been to recognise the distinction between refugees who are forced out for their countries due to persecution and illegal migrants who come in search of economic prospects, he said.
After hearing this the court observed that, there are two important considerations in this case - the aspect of security of the country and the protection of human rights of refugees particularly women, children, old persons and innocent persons and that the court has to balance these interests.
The Court further observed that this is an important issue which needs to be heard at length and therefore fixed the matter for a detailed hearing on the 21st of November.