NEW DELHI — Taking up the issue of deportation of Rohingya refugees and immigrants from Myanmar, the Supreme Court of India on Wednesday agreed to hear a “substantial question” on whether immigrants can be granted the status of refugees.
The apex court told that there a distinction between Rohingya refugees who had fled to India to escape persecution in their home country and those crossing the border for greener pastures.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that their main prayer was to stop any proposal in connection with deportation and let international laws regarding community rights govern the matter.
Resisting the attempt by senior counsel Colin Gonsalves to distinguish between two types of migrants — one who had crossed over to India to save their lives and other for economic considerations, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the top court must decide if all migrants can claim the status of refugees. “This is the substantial question here,” mehta argued.
The court said it would examine the “substantial question” on the issue and asked the parties involved to complete the pleading till the next date of hearing, reports livemint.
The next hearing of the matter is scheduled for August 14, 2019.
Two Rohingya men Mohammad Salimullah and Mohammad Shaqir had moved the Supreme Court against the Centre’s proposed plan to deport 40,000 members of the community to the land of their origin, Myanmar. The plea said that Rohingyas had taken refuge in India after escaping from Myanmar due to widespread discrimination, violence and bloodshed against the community there.
India estimates that 40,000 Rohingya live in the country in camps across the country, including the capital, New Delhi, having arrived over the years after fleeing violence and persecution in Myanmar, which denies them citizenship.
India first deported seven Rohingya men to Myanmar in October 2018 and it sparked fears of further repatriations among those sheltered in Indian refugee camps.
The UN had, however, slammed India’s decision to deport Rohingya Muslims back to Myanmar despite indications they could face persecution by the military.