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Can Rohingyas’ rehabilitation cost Indian poor, SC wonders

A petition before the court sought to deport the refugees, who, it claimed, were eating into the resources meant for Indian citizens.

india Updated: Apr 09, 2018 20:47 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rohingya,Supreme Court,Centre
The court directed the Centre to furnish a status report on the facilities for Rohingya Muslims staying in some colonies of Delhi and Haryana.(AFP FILE PHOTO)

Can rehabilitation measures be provided to Rohingya Muslims at the cost of the country’s slum dwellers, the Supreme Court wondered on Monday on a plea which sought to deport the refugees, who, it claimed, were eating into the resources meant for Indian citizens.

A bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra seemed to agree with the contention raised by senior advocate Sajan Poovaya, who on behalf of petitioner and advocate, Ashwini Upadhaya, contended that slum dwellers living in India cannot be deprived of their benefits because the country has limited resources.

“Apart from the two (Rohingya) colonies (in Delhi and Haryana), there are scores of slums… so we cannot confine the matter only to Rohingyas. These are matters relating to slum development. If we are dealing with development issue of the Rohingyas, then this court should be concerned with the denial of rights in other illegal colonies of Delhi as there are several slums,” Justice D Y Chandrachud told the lawyers.

The bench, however, directed the Centre to furnish a status report on the facilities for Rohingya Muslims presently staying in some colonies of Delhi and Haryana.

It also wanted a response on the intervention application filed by the West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights’ (WBCPCR), opposing the Centre’s move to deport the 40,000-odd Rohingya Muslims in India who have fled from Myanmar to evade persecution.

Additional solicitor general, Tushar Mehta appearing for Centre denied that Rohingyas are being discriminated. He supported Upadhaya that the government has its own duty towards the development of slum dwellers.

“I (Centre) can’t give any additional benefits (to Rohingyas). I am unable to give my own citizens sufficient facilities. It is not as if the government is discriminating. We will not be justified in giving something extra,” he submitted, referring to a spate of petitions in the court on the issue.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Rohingya Muslims, faulted the government’s argument.

He said denial of benefits to slum dwellers did not mean that Rohingyas were not entitled to any.

At this Mehta interjected and said that Rohingyas will be given the same facilities, which are being provided to the slum dwellers.

He criticised the advocates representing the petitioners and said the “public-spirited persons” had never shown any zeal in filing petitions to highlight the plight of slum dwellers in the country.

First Published: Apr 09, 2018 20:47 IST