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Supreme Court directs Centre to consider reunion of teenaged Rohingya refugee with parents in Bangladesh

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The Supreme Court has pulled up the Central government over deportation of a 14-year-old girl from India to Myanmar, while her parents, currently seeking asylum in Bangladesh, want her back with them.

The Bench of Justice Abdul Nazeer and Justice V. Ramasubramanian asked the Centre that how could it think of such an option, of leaving a minor girl on the border of Myanmar, when her parents were waiting for her in Bangladesh?

The Apex Court made these remarks, during the hearing of a petition filed by NGO Global Peace Initiative (GPI), seeking permission to provide foster care for the Rohingya refugee, till she was reunited with her parents.

The Bench further expressed reservation on handing over the teenaged refugee to an organisation, which was seconded by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

Appearing for the Centre, the SG contended that the girl was not staying in a detention centre or camp, but in a Nari Niketan.

Stating that he himself had never heard of this NGO, the SG further cast doubts over the letter written by the father of the girl to the organisation, stating that something looked suspicious in the case.

Appearing for GPI, Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde submitted that it was one of the largest evangelical organisations, having a large number of women involved in social service.

The lawyer said in this case, a teenaged Rohingya refugee was stuck in a camp in Assam, while her parents, who were stationed in Bangladesh, had sought help of the organisation to reunite with their daughter. He further said that he can give credentials of the organisation as well, to clear all doubts.

Hegde then showed a letter stated to have been written by the father of the girl to the founder of the NGO, Dr. K.A. Paul. The letter sought the help of the organisation to reunite with the girl.

The Counsel for GPI then said that they were not asking for permanent custody of the girl, but only to facilitate her reunion with her parents.

The SG then apprised the court that illegal immigrants, who enter India without valid documents, are deported to their country of origin.

The top court of the country observed that there should not be any objection, when the parents want their child to be sent back to them.

The SG then replied that the identities of the parents have not been verified. He said that the government will consider these issues before sending the girl to her parents in Bangladesh.

The Bench then ordered the government to verify the identities of the parents and said the matter will be taken up next in six weeks.

The Court had earlier issued notice in a writ petition filed by the NGO against the deportation of a Rohingyan teenage girl from India to Myanmar.

Case title: Global Peace Initiative through its President v Union of India and Another| WP(C) 521/2021

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