'Do not deport Rohingyas now', Indian SC to govt
While the Supreme Court on Friday orally indicated that the government should not deport Rohingyas “now”, the Centre prevailed over it to not record any such views in its formal order citing “international ramifications”.
With this, the status quo over the Rohingya crisis continues even as the Supreme Court gave the Rohingya community liberty to approach it in case of “any contingency”.
It adjourned the matter to November 21 for a detailed hearing. The court is closed for Diwali holidays till October 22.
“Take action wherever you find wrong, but do not deport now,” Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra orally asked the Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre.
Senior advocate Fali Nariman, appearing for the Rohingya community, said “in case of any difficulty we will come here”.
But Mr. Mehta put up a stiff resistance to the tenor of the proceedings, asking the court why they should even address the question of deportation at this stage without any reason for such apprehensions coming up now.
“We know what to do... if Your Lordships say anything, it will have international ramifications. No such contingency has arrived so far,” Mr. Mehta submitted.
“Make sure no such contingency is arrived at, in case of which petitioners (Rohingyas) can come (to SC),” the Bench observed.
Mr. Mehta continued to strongly protest the Bench mentioning anything in its order which may give the impression that a direction is being passed by the Supreme Court to the government regarding deportation. He objected even when the court attempted to record in its order that the case is “subjudice” or even tried to mention that the “government is sensitive to the problem”.
The Additional Solicitor General urged the court, at this point of time, to plainly record a line in its order that “Mr. Nariman says in case of contingency, he will approach the court”.
The Bench agreed even as the Chief Justice remarked this as an “extraordinary situation” and an “issue of great magnitude” in which the State has a pivotal role.
Chief Justice Misra pointed out that the Constitution is a protector of human rights, especially of children, women, the sick, the infirm and the innocent.
“By ‘innocent’ we mean the (Rohingya) children and women who know nothing about what is happening. As a constitutional court we cannot be oblivious of this fact. The State should also not be oblivious,” he observed.
The court said the approach of the government should be “multi-pronged”. It should consider both the humanitarian spectrum as well as concerns over national security, economic and labour interests.
“National security and economic interests cannot be seconded. How to strike a balance?” Chief Justice Misra asked both Mr. Nariman and the government to address this aspect.
In his submissions, Mr. Nariman shortly argued that the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution has been expanded to include any “persons” and not just citizens.
“There are different types of foreigners. There are those who need protection. Every person has a right to safeguard his personal liberty and not be deported,” Mr. Nariman submitted.
Mr. Nariman said the concept of human rights is statutorily recognised and defined in the Protection of Human Rights of 1993. Human rights has thus become essentially justiciable with its inclusion under as a law as defined under Article 13 of the Constitution, Mr. Nariman submitted.
The court was hearing a bunch of petitions, one filed by persons within Rohingya community, against a proposed move to deport over 40,000 Rohingya refugees.