The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that it would accord final hearing in August on a batch of petitions challenging the Centre’s decision to deport illegal Rohingya Muslim immigrants to Myanmar.
The top court is also seized of petitions which support the government’s stand to deport over 40,000 Rohingyas, who fled to India after violence in the Western Rakhine State of Myanmar and are settled in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR and Rajasthan.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose asked the counsel for parties to submit their written submissions in the meantime.
“Pleadings are complete. Parties are required file brief written submissions,” the bench said adding that the date of final hearing would be notified shortly by the registry.
Initially, two Rohingya immigrants — Mohammad Salimullah and Mohammad Shaqir, who are registered refugees under the United Nations High Commission of Refugees (UNHCR), had moved the apex court in 2017 challenging the move to deport to Rohingyas on various grounds including that it violated international human right conventions.
“Proposed deportation is contrary to the constitutional protection of Article 14 (Right to Equality), Article 21 (Right to Life and Personal Liberty) and Article 51(c) of the Constitution of India, which provides equal rights and liberty to every person.
“This act would also be in contradiction with the principle of ‘Non-Refoulement’, which has been widely recognised as a principle of Customary International Law,” the plea said.
The principle of ‘Non-Refoulement’ prohibits States from transferring or removing individuals from their jurisdiction when there are substantial grounds for believing that the person would be at risk of irreparable harm upon return, including persecution, torture, ill-treatment or other serious human rights violations.
The plea had also sought a direction that Rohingyas be provided “basic amenities to ensure that they can live in humane conditions as required by international law”.
Another petition was filed by one Jaffar Ullah alleging unhygienic situation at refugee camps in Haryana, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir.
The Centre had questioned the bonafides and motives of the NGOs and individuals seeking facilities for the Rohingya refugees, and stated that there is no discrimination between Indians and outsiders in providing health and education facilities.
BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Upadhaya, one of the petitioners, has filed the plea supporting the Government’s stand and said “few NGO’s are posing more threat to the unity of the country than enemy country like Pakistan”.