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Supreme Court Stays Manipur HC Order Which Allowed 7 Myanmarese Citizens To Travel To Delhi If Authorities Have Not Acted Upon It

Mehal Jain
25 April 2022 7:28 AM GMT
Supreme Court Stays Manipur HC Order Which Allowed 7 Myanmarese Citizens To Travel To Delhi If Authorities Have Not Acted Upon It
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On being told by the Central Government that 7 Myanmarese citizens who were allowed by the Manipur High Court to travel to New Delhi last year are now untraceable, the Supreme Court on Monday said that the responsibility is that of the petitioner (who filed by PIL in the HC) to produce the person before the concerned authorities.The Court also stayed the High Court's May 2021 judgment,...

On being told by the Central Government that 7 Myanmarese citizens who were allowed by the Manipur High Court to travel to New Delhi last year are now untraceable, the Supreme Court on Monday said that the responsibility is that of the petitioner (who filed by PIL in the HC) to produce the person before the concerned authorities.

The Court also stayed the High Court's May 2021 judgment, if the same has not been acted upon.

The Court issued notice on the Centre's challenge to the Manipur High Court May 3, 2021 judgment ordering safe passage to New Delhi for seven Myanmarese persons to enable them to avail suitable protection from the United Nations High Comissioner for Refugees.

The bench of Justices A. M. Khanwilkar and A. S. Oka was hearing the SLP against the May, 2021 decision of the Manipur High Court in the matter concerning 7 Myanmarese citizens, who entered India illegally, and sought permission to travel to New Delhi to seek protection from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In an important observation, the High Court had said that the seven Myanmarese individuals in question are not 'migrants', as normally understood, but are 'asylum seekers' and that they did not enter our country with the clear-cut and deliberate intention of breaking and violating our domestic laws.

The Court also noted that though India has no clear refugee protection policy or framework, it does grant asylum to a large number of refugees from nearby countries and that India usually respects the UNHCR's recognition of the status of such asylum seekers, mainly from Afghanistan and Myanmar. It may be noted that in its judgment, the High Court had then recorded, "The petitioner/party-in-person (Advocate Nandita Haskar) states that she will make the required arrangements for purchase of their air-tickets and would also arrange for their stay at New Delhi, pending consideration of their claims for 'refugee' status by the UNHCR. This assurance is taken on record. Further, the petitioner/party-in-person shall ensure that these seven persons approach the Officer-in-Charge of the Parliament Street Police Station or the jurisdictional Police Station at New Delhi to register their names, local addresses and whereabouts, pending consideration of their claims"

In April, 2021, while allowing the interim relief for arranging safe transport and passage of 7 Myanmarese individuals to Imphal, the Manipur High Court had observed that the principle of non Refoulement can prima facie be read within the ambit of Article 21 of the Constitution.

On Monday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta placed reliance on the April, 2021 order of the Supreme Court denying interim relief in a matter of deportation of Rohingyas in Jammu. "There, Your Lordships laid down, 'It is also true that the rights guaranteed under Articles 14 and 21 are available to all persons who may or may not be citizens. But the right not to be deported, is ancillary or concomitant to the right to reside or settle in any part of the territory of India guaranteed under Article 19(1)(e). Two serious allegations have been made in reply of the Union of India. They relate to (i) the threat to internal security of the country; and (ii) the agents and touts providing a safe passage into India for illegal immigrants, due to the porous nature of the landed borders. Moreover, this court has already dismissed I.A.No. 142725 of 2018 filed for similar relief, in respect of those detained in Assam'", the SG quoted from the said order.
In respect of the instant SLP against the Manipur High Court judgment, the SG told the bench, "These people who entered under the High Court's order are now untraceable"
Justice Khanwilkar asked, "The undertaking was given by the petitioner?"
The SG submitted, "Yes. She should now find out and tell us now"
Continuing, he advanced, "What are the parameters of the fundamental rights while a person enters a country or gets out of the country? These are essentially Executive functions. Suppose I go to US and break some law there, then I possibly cannot approach the court of law. Then I will be deported!...Here, the High court has taken the non refoulement principle to which India is not a signatory..."
The bench then proceeded to pass the following order- "Issue notice. Notice returnable on May 6, 2022. Dasti in addition permitted. Stay of operation of the impugned judgment provided the same has not been acted upon by the concerned authority so far. We are informed by the SG on the basis of instructions that the persons concerned are now not traceable. In that case, the writ petitioner will have to take the responsibility for producing them before the concerned authority"
Case Title: Union of India v. Nandita Haksar and Ors.

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