New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that it will examine all the issues involved in the moves to deport Rohingya refugees back to Myanmar as it urged the rival parties to address the issue on the strength of law shunning emotional arguments.
“No emotional arguments. Go by law and human values and mutual respect,” said the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M.Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y.Chandrachud as amicus curiae Fali Nariuman assailed the government stand on deporting about 40,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled Myanmar to escapee persecution.
Urging both Nariman and Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to address the court on law and human values, the bench said that “we will deal with it including parameters, boundaries and contours of the decision, and the jurisdiction of the top court” to entertain the plea by two Rohingya refugees opposing moves to turn them back to Myanmar.
The court said that it should be “very slow in abdicating its jurisdiction”.
“I for one believed that court’s should be very slow in abdicating its jurisdiction,” said the Chief Justice.
The observation from the bench assumes significance as the Central government on Tuesday once again reiterated its stand that the court should keep off from Rohingya issue as it concerned the matter falling within the domain of the executive.
Stating that the issue was not justiceable, Mehta told the bench that the parameters within which executive decisions are taken include diplomatic considerations, whether country can sustain the burden of such a large number of refugees, law and order situation in the state where they settle, and other factors including drain on country’s resources.
Mocking the government’s stand that the issue fell within the executive domain and court should not interfere as it was not justiceable, Nariman said that Article 14 (equality before law) and 21 (right to life) was available to all.
“Our constitution is not based on groups rights but on individual rights. It is both for the citizens and non-citizens,” he said.
Even as the government tried to link the moves to deport Rohingyas with some of them having alleged links with outfits in Pakistan and Bangladesh, the court asked whether the government had an obligation to protect Rohingya children, women and sick who are suffering.
The Central government is describing Rohingyas as illegal immigrants and refusing to treat them as refugees.
A Rohingya petitioner had on September 23 told the top court that they were not illegal immigrants but refugees who fled Myanmar and came to India for shelter in wake of their persecution on the grounds of their religion and community identity and were entitled to all protection under the international conventions on refugees and treaties.
Addressing the court, Nariman assailed the government’s August 8 communication to all the states and union territories asking them identify and deport Rohingyas.
Citing international declarations and conventions to which India is signatory, he wondered whether the August 8 communication over-rides the county’s general policy on refugees which lays down the standard operating procedures that needs to be followed by the agencies in dealing with the people who claim to be refugees.
The next hearing is on October 13.