SC to hear plea challenging decision to deport Rohingyas

Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju had said that around 40,000 Rohingyas were staying in India illegally.

September 01, 2017 12:20 pm | Updated 10:08 pm IST - New Delhi

Supreme Court of India.

Supreme Court of India.

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear an urgent plea made by two Rohingya Muslim immigrants against the government’s proposed move to deport their 40,000-strong refugee community back to their native land of Myanmar, where discrimination and possibly summary executions await them.

A Bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud decided to hear the plea of Mohammad Salimullah and Mohammad Shaqir for protection of the life and liberty of their community on September 4.

Protection to life

The duo, represented by advocates Prashant Bhushan and Pranav Sachdeva, said the Centre’s move to deport them violated the constitutional guarantee that the Indian state should “protect the life and liberty of every human being, whether citizen or not.”

“If they are deported, they may be executed,” Mr. Bhushan submitted in an urgent mentioning.

Recently, the National Human Rights Commission issued notice to the government on the proposed deportment.

Panic struck the refugee community following media reports of a statement by Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju in Parliament in early August that the Central government has directed the States to identify and deport illegal immigrants, including Rohingya.

Granted ID cards

The petition filed in the Supreme Court 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 contended.

The UNHRC Report of 2016 on the Human Rights violations and abuses against Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar has noted successive patterns of serious human rights violations to the right to life, liberty and security of the Rohingya by State security forces and other officials in Myanmar. Violations include summary executions, enforced disappearance, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and ill-treatment, forced labour, arbitrary arrest and detention of hundreds of Rohingya, including women and children.

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