'Illegal' Rohingya refugees pose security threat, Centre tells SC

The fundamental right to reside and settle in any part of the country is available to citizens only, the Centre says in its affidavit

September 18, 2017 02:15 pm | Updated November 28, 2021 07:44 am IST - New Delhi

Rohingya refugee children attend a madrasa at a camp set up for the refugees on the outskirts of Jammu. File photo

Rohingya refugee children attend a madrasa at a camp set up for the refugees on the outskirts of Jammu. File photo

The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that Rohingyas posed as a serious threat to national security with links to terror outfits, including the Islamic State.

The Centre’s affidavit, filed in the apex court registry, said unless the government took action now, illegal immigrants like Rohingyas would eat into the welfare meant for India's citizens.

The government said the decision to deport them (Rohingyas) fell within the exclusive domain of the government. The court should refrain from hearing them.

“Any indulgence shown by the highest court of the country would encourage the illegal influx of illegal migrants into our country and thereby deprive the citizens of India of their fundamental and basic human rights,” the Ministry of Home Affairs said in the affidavit.

“If anything untoward happens to us, we will come to you,” an unfazed senior advocate Fali Nariman, appearing for two Rohingyas representing their 40,000-strong community, insisted during the short hearing in court.

“Who has stopped you?” Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, heading a Bench comprising Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud responded.

Chief Justice Misra however said the court will first have to “see the legal position, whether we have jurisdiction in this issue and what kind of jurisdiction we have”. The court posted the case for detailed hearing on October 3.

In its affidavit, the government accused the Rohingyas of taking advantage of the porous borders in the east with organised smuggling of people, human trafficking, mobilisation of hawala. Many of them have managed to acquire fake Indian identity cards like PAN card and voter cards, the government claimed.

The Centre said an organised influx of Rohingyas illegally enter India via Benapole-Haridaspur (West Bengal), Hilli (West Bengal) and Sonamora (Tripura), Kolkata and Guwahati. Appearing for Maitur Rahman, a native of of Assam, advocate Somiran Sharma intervened to argue in court that alowing the Rohingyas to stay may kindle ethnic tensions in the northeastern State.

Terror links

“Many of the Rohingyas figure in the suspected sinister designs of ISI/ISIS and other extremists groups who want to achieve their ulterior motives in India including that of flaring up communal and sectarian violence in sensitive areas of the country,” the affidavit said.

Rohingyas with militant background are found to be very active in Jammu, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mewat, it said. “Radicalised” Rohingyas may wreak violence on Indian Buddhists, the government warned.

But mostly, the government feared that the “illegal immigrants” would exhaust the exhaust national resources of India and deprive citizens “of their legitimate share in the employment sector, subsidised housing, medical and educational facilities”.

“The fundamental rights of Indian citizens would, therefore, be seriously violated... India, as a sovereign nation, has the first and the foremost constitutional duty and obligation towards its citizens...” the affidavit said.

The government said India is not a signatory to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951 and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1967, and hence, is not obliged to follow its provisions.

The government quoted the 1955  Hans Muller  case judgment by a Supreme Court Constitution Bench, which held that The Foreigners Act (of 1946) vests the Central Government with an “absolute and unfettered discretion” to expel foreigners.

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