Supreme Court says human rights of Rohingya refugees cannot be ignored
The top court set the next date of hearing for November 21, and asked petitioners to approach it in case the government begins any deportation exercise.
The Supreme Court on Friday said that problem of Rohingya refugees is of a “great magnitude”. However, there is a need to strike a “right balance” to address concerns of national security that might arise due to their stay, it said.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra was about to issue a directive to the Centre not to deport Rohingya refugees but was stopped by additional solicitor general, Tushar Mehta, who said an order of this kind would embarrass the government on international fora.
The bench fixed November 21 to give a detailed and a holistic hearing on the petitions filed against the government’s decision to deport Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar. At the request of senior counsel, appearing for representatives from the community, social activists and NGOs, the bench gave them liberty to approach it in case any contingency arose during the intervening period.
“It is a large issue. An issue of great magnitude. Therefore, the state has a big role. The role of the state in such a situation has to be multipronged,” the bench said.
Mehta was told that the government should not be oblivious to the plight of children and women. “They do not know anything. We expect the executive will not be oblivious to their condition. Do not deport them. You take action if something wrong is found,” the bench said.
On behalf of the petitioners, senior advocate Fali S Nariman said that all Rohingyas, be they Muslims or Hindus, are not terrorists as the government has stamped them to be. “It (Centre) cannot pass a blanket order like this,” he submitted.
The bench felt the government’s concern over national security, too, cannot be ignored. “There is no iota of doubt that a humanitarian issue is involved but national interest has to be kept in mind,” said the judges. They also emphasised that the court will go by the letter of the law and not get swayed by the “emotional arguments” offered by the two sides.
Centre should deal with migration: MHA
The ministry of home affairs (MHA) said the issue of Rohingya migration had to be “dealt with only by the Central government” as it is an executive function of the government.
“The central government is of the opinion that deportation of illegal immigrants has to be dealt with only by the central government because it is essentially an executive function of the government,” said an MHA spokesperson after the hearing.
The spokesperson added that the apex court had not stayed the deportation of Rohingyas.
“No interim order has been granted. The SC has merely recorded the statement of the learned counsel for the petitioner to the effect that in case of any contingency he can move the court for appropriate interim order.”