Rohingya issue:SC order came as shot in govt's arm

Rohingya issue:SC order came as shot in govt's arm

In what could be a shot in the arm for the Centre, the Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a plea to restrain the Union government from deporting seven Rohingyas to Myanmar, the country of their origin.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph took into consideration the Union government's contention that these people were being sent back to their country as they were found to be illegal immigrants and Myanmar accepted them to be their citizens.

On a plea that the apex court must realise its responsibility towards protecting the life of Rohingyas, the bench tersely said, "We are fully aware of our responsibilities. We do not have to reminded of it."

The top court's order came at a time when the ruling BJP chief Amit Shah had raked up the issue of illegal immigrants.

In court, the government's counsel Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that these persons, entered the country sometime in 2012 and they were convicted under the Foreigners Act by the competent court at Cachar. Their prison term has been completed and they also expressed their willingness to be repatriated from the detention centre at Silchar in Assam, he said.

He also read out an affidavit filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs in response to an application filed by Rohingya refugee Mohammad Salimullah contending the Myanmar embassy had already provided a certificate of identity and travel documents for repatriation of the seven persons from Manipur border.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, however, said there was a threat to their lives over there. He wanted a direction to ensure a UN official ascertained the claims made by the government.

The law officer also submitted that the application has been filed only on the basis of newspaper reports.

After hearing both the counsel, the bench said, "In view of the fact that these persons were found to be illegal immigrants and they are being sent back to their country, the application is dismissed."

The court took up the matter as the first item in its list of cases on a request made by Bhushan.

In his plea, the applicant claimed the situation in Myanmar was extremely dangerous for the Rohingyas to return and they are likely to be subjected to torture and even killed.

It further submitted that the proposed deportation was contrary to the constitutional protection of Articles 14 (equality), 21 (right to life and liberty) and 51(c) (respect for international law), that provided equal rights and liberty to every person.

It further claimed that the violence and severe persecution that had forced Rohingyas to flee Myanmar and seek asylum in India continued till date and has attracted international condemnation.

Notably, the top court had on October 13 allowed the petitioner, Rohingya refugee to approach the court in “case of any contingency”.