Don't intervene, let govt deal with Rohingya case, Centre tells SC


On petition challenging the deportation of almost 40,000 illegal Rohingya immigrants back to Myanmar, the Centre told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it could not allow India to become the "world's refugee capital". Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was representing the Centre on the issue of deportation of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, conveyed it to the court that it could not allow the country to be flooded by allowing anybody to enter it.

This was illegal, Bhushan contended, as this was contrary to the global principle of non-refoulement which states that refugees or asylum seekers shall not be forced to return to a country in which they are liable to be persecuted.

Appearing for the refugees, advocate, Prashant Bhushan said that the Indian government must be prevented from stopping more Rohingyas entering India because of the persecution they face in Myanmar.

Lakhs of Rohingya, a mostly Muslim minority in the Buddhist-majority Rakhine state, have fled Myanmar after August when a fresh security crackdown on Rohingya insurgent groups targetted the civilian population as well. And that this kind of act is gross violation of the global conventions on refugees. Mehta, for his part, contended that if the arguments were accepted, India would become the refugee capital of the world.

Bhushan alleged that a large number of them facing persecution were trying to come in but were being pushed back by BSF using stun grenades and chilli spray.

The hearing in the case is underway since September a year ago, after Bhushan moved the top court to challenge the Centre's decision to deport almost 40,000 Rohingya refugees from the nation.

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Another submission was made before the court regarding protection of the Rohingya children living in camps. The Bench intervened and said that the word welcome may be an exaggeration while posting the matter to March 7.

"It is a clear violation of right to live with dignity guaranteed to them by the Constitution", he argued.

"Refugees all over the world have got this right and the has been sensitive enough not to apply a lower standard for refugees", Subramanium said.

The ASG responded, "Ideally, the court should not interfere in these issues, which shall be decided diplomatically at an executive level".

The CJI-led bench had, earlier, dismissed the appeal of government to allow the matter to be handled exclusively by the executive.

In a 16-page affidavit, the Centre had held that the current influx of illegal Rohingya immigrants into India was a "potential threat to internal and national security" and in such a situation, the government would take a policy decision based on several parameters, diplomatic considerations and potential dangers to the nation.