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"Principle Of Non Refoulement Where Refugees Are Liable To Be Subjected To Persecution Can Prima Facie Be Read Into Article 21": Manipur High Court

Nupur Thapliyal
21 April 2021 12:01 PM GMT
Principle Of Non Refoulement Where Refugees Are Liable To Be Subjected To Persecution Can Prima Facie Be Read Into Article 21: Manipur High Court
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While allowing the interim relief for arranging safe transport and passage of 7 Myanmarese individuals to Imphal, the Manipur High Court on Tuesday observed that the principle of non Refoulement can prima facie be read within the ambit of Article 21 of the Constitution.A division bench comprising of Chief Justice Sanjay Kumar and Justice Lanusungkum Jamir observed thus:"The...

While allowing the interim relief for arranging safe transport and passage of 7 Myanmarese individuals to Imphal, the Manipur High Court on Tuesday observed that the principle of non Refoulement can prima facie be read within the ambit of Article 21 of the Constitution.

A division bench comprising of Chief Justice Sanjay Kumar and Justice Lanusungkum Jamir observed thus:

"The principle againstrefoulement, i.e., the forcible return of refugees to a country where they are liable to be subjected to persecution, can prima facie be read into Article 21 of the Indian Constitution."

The observation came in a petition filed by Nandita Haksar seeking directions on State of Manipur for providing a safe passage to 7 Myanmar based persons including four adults and three children for enabling them to travel to Delhi in order to seek protection from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 

Since, the said persons had taken refuge at Moreh in Tengnoupal Disrict, Manipur, an interim direction was prayed by the Court in order to make necessary arrangements for bringing the seven persons to Imphal.

During the course of hearing, reliance was made by the Additional Solicitor General on a letter issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs dated 10th March 2021 wherein it was stated that necessary steps should be taken in order to prevent possible illegal influx from Myanmar into Indian territory and to initiate legal proceedings against illegal migrants. 

Considering the facts of the case, the Court while noting that the principle of non Refoulement can be read into Art. 21, observed thus:

"This Court is conscious of the fact that India is not a signatory to the Geneva Refugee Convention, 1951, or the New York Protocol of 1967. However, it is a party to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and also the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. That apart, the protection afforded by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution is not limited to citizens and can be availed by non-citizens also."

Observing that such aspects require further examination, the Court directed the State to arrange for a safe passage of the 7 persons to Imphal after the Court was apprised that the said persons were under constant threat of apprehension or deportation by the authorities.

"It would be open to the State authorities to arrange for necessary security at the residence of the petitioner/party-in-person after these 7(seven) individuals are brought there, so as to ensure their protection and also to curbtheir further movement. Before they are brought to Imphal, the District authorities at Moreh are permitted to take these 7 (seven) individuals to the Senior Immigration Officer at Moreh for the purpose of noting their details and also obtaining their biographic and biometric particulars. Thereafter, they shall be brought safely under escort to Imphal and stationed at the residence of the petitioner/party-in-person under adequate security and guard till the next date of hearing." The Court ordered.

While posting the matter for further hearing on 26th April, the Court also ordered that no coercive steps or adverse action shall be taken in relation to the Myanmarese persons, be it by the State or by the Central Government authorities.

Title: Nandita Haksar v. State of Manipur & Ors.

Click Here To Read Order

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