The Supreme Court on Thursday refused any relief to the Rohingya refugees detained in Jammu from deportation but said the deportation should be as per procedure prescribed in law.
The bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian were hearing a PIL challenging the detention of the Rohingya refugees and the move to deport them to Myanmar. The Apex Court refused to pass an order to release the detained Rohingyas.
On behalf of the Government of India, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta opposed the application. Mehta said a similar plea was dismissed in 2018 in Assam and the petitioner had not mentioned it in the PIL. The SG said Rohingyas are not refugees and maintained they be termed illegal migrants.
Senior Advocate Harish Salve, counsel for the Jammu and Kashmir administration, said India had not signed the global agreements on the principle of non-refoulement and therefore it was not binding on Delhi to follow such conventions.
In an earlier hearing in court, CJI Bobde had acknowledged the threat of slaughter faced by Rohingyas in Myanmar but said the Court cannot do anything about it since it was beyond its control.
One Mohammad Salimullah had moved the Supreme Court seeking to restrain the Central Government from deporting Rohingya refugees detained in Jammu and Kashmir.
The applicant, through Senior Advocate Prashant Bhushan, submitted that even while the top court was seized of the matter, news reports had been doing rounds since March 7 of the nearly 150-170 Rohingya refugees in Jammu being detained.
The application stated Union Minister Jitendra Singh’s statements two months ago saying the Rohingya wouldn’t be able to secure citizenship. During a hearing on March 23, Bhushan referred to the order passed by the International Court of Justice last year to highlight that Rohingyas faced a genocidal threat there.
The plea contended that the proposed deportation was contrary to the constitutional protections of Article 14, Article 21 and Article 51(c) of the Constitution of India, which provides equal rights and liberty to every ‘person’.