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SC refuses to issue order on bid against Rohingya influx

| | New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to issue any direction to the Centre on pleas against the denial of Rohingya refugees’ influx into India.

In a petition, the Rohingya Muslims claimed that the security forces were given a free hand to push back the refugees trying to enter the country. They contended that refusal to allow refugees’ entry has created a serious humani-tarian crisis.

The application was significant as the court had permitted the Rohingya Muslims to approach the court in the event of any contingency where they are being forcibly removed.

Reacting to the application, a Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, “As we have understood, nothing has taken place from the Government’s end to merit any order (from us). As regards pushing back of refugees at the border, this has to be heard on merits.”

Senior advocates Rajeev Dhavan and Prashant Bhushan, who represented the refugee petitioners, said that the act of the Government amounted to violation of internationally recognised principle of non-refoulement, by which a sovereign country cannot refuse or return entry to refugees fleeing from religious persecution. In the present case, Bhushan added that the Rohingyas had escaped into India due to religious persecution back in Myanmar.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta submitted on behalf of the Centre that the act of Government to not allow the refugees entry, did not amount to non-refoulement as this principle applied only to those persons who already entered into the country.

He said that if the argument of petitioner is accepted, “The country would be flooded by refugees. We do not want India to become the refugee capital of the world. These are matters between countries involving diplomatic relations. We cannot allow people to enter like this.”

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) supported the Centre as it said that rights of refugees will accrue only for those who are in the country. The Bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, specifically asked senior advocate Gopal Subramanium appearing for NHRC whether the Commission is in favour of refugees stopped at the border from being allowed in to which he replied, “No. That matter is being taken up at the Government’s level. We don’t have any instructions in this regard.”

The court agreed with the Centre that no contingency situation has arisen requiring urgent orders from the court. However, the Centre was asked to respond on the fresh application by March 7, the next date of hearing.



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