In response to the PIL of two Rohingya refugees challenging their deportation to Myanmar, the Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that illegal immigrants cannot claim fundamental rights which are otherwise available even to non-citizens. In the rejoinder affidavit, the government told the apex court that though it was “fully conscious, aware and responsible about its obligations emanating from various international instruments”, but certain views expressed by Indian representatives and the contentions, based on “declarations/resolutions/international instruments” were devoid of merits.
“As a sovereign State, India will always honour such obligations which are binding obligations. Having said that, it is reiterated that India is not a signatory to United Nation Convention of 1951 and the Protocol of 1967 issued thereunder. The said Convention/Protocol is, therefore, not binding upon India and no other Declaration/Resolution/Convention/international treaty or instrument of any kind is in force which prohibits India, as a sovereign nation, to exercise its right of deporting illegal immigrants in accordance with laws of India and thereby protecting the fundamental rights of its own citizens more particularly in the interest of national security,” the Centre said.
Meanwhile, fixing October 13 as the date of hearing pleas on Rohingya issue, the court asked the Centre and others to file documents including international conventions for its assistance. The apex court said it will hear the arguments only on the points of law and asked the parties to desist from advancing emotional arguments as the matter concerned humanitarian cause and humanity, which required to be heard with mutual respect.
The rejoinder affidavit of the Ministry of Home Affairs also said there was no binding legal obligation on India with respect of non-refoulement flowing from any binding international instrument. Non-refoulement means the practice of not forcing refugees or asylum seekers to return to a country where they are liable to be subjected to persecution.
“I submit that the illegal immigrants would not get and cannot claim any of the fundamental rights which are otherwise available to non-citizens as the term “non-citizens” would necessarily mean persons, not citizens of India, are in India on a valid travel document,” Mukesh Mittal, Joint Secretary (Foreigners) with the MHA told the court.
“The framers of the Constitution of India would not have envisaged a situation where thousands and thousands of people would be flowing into this country entering illegally without any valid travel documents and start claiming fundamental rights as non-citizens,” he added.
Earlier, the Centre had termed Rohingya refugees as “illegal” immigrants and said that some of them were part of a “sinister” design of Pakistan’s ISI and terror groups such as the ISIS, whose presence in the country will pose a “serious” national security threat.