SC likely to hear Rohingya petitions on January 10

Separate plea calls for identification of “illegal migrants,” particularly from Bangladesh and Myanmar

December 23, 2019 10:04 pm | Updated 10:50 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A view of the Supreme Court of India building in New Delhi. File

A view of the Supreme Court of India building in New Delhi. File

The Supreme Court is expected to take up on January 10, 2020 a batch of petitions filed by Rohingya immigrants about their living conditions and the Centre’s statement over two years ago to deport 40,000 of them back to their native land of Myanmar.

On November 21, a three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde, Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Surya Kant had also ordered the listing of a separate petition filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay for the identification of “illegal migrants,” particularly from Bangladesh and Myanmar. Mr. Upadhyay’s petition said the “expeditious identification of illegal migrants is more pressing now than ever.”

Condition of camps

The petitions may come up for hearing before an appropriate Bench of the Supreme Court on January 10. One of the petitions about the “squalid” conditions of the living camps of the Rohingya here dates back to 2013.

The Rohingya community had fled persecution and violence in the State of Rakhine in Myanmar. They are spread across Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR and Rajasthan.

Panic had struck the refugee community following media reports of a statement by then Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju in Parliament in early August 2017 that the Central government has

directed States to identify and deport illegal immigrants, including Rohingya.

Recognised by UNHCR

One of the petitions submitted that the 40,000-odd Rohingya in the country were registered and recognised by the UNHCR in 2016 and granted refugee identity cards. Their deportment would violate India’s commitment to international conventions which recognise the ‘Principle of Non-Refoulement’. This principle of customary international law prohibits the deportation of refugees to a country where they face threat to their lives.

“The proposed deportation is contrary to the constitutional protections of Article 14 (equality), Article 21 (right to life) and Article 51(c) (respect for international law and treaty obligations) of the Constitution... despite these constitutional and statutory requirements, the respondent 1 (Union) has failed to carry out their obligations to ensure protection to the Rohingya community by proposing to deport them to Myanmar,” the petition had con​tended.

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