Supreme Court refuses to interfere in deportation of 7 Rohingya refugees

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Oct 04, 2018, 11.11 AM(IST)

Supreme Court. Photograph:( Reuters )

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The plea that the Supreme Court intervene in the deportation had been filed by the lawyer Prashant Bhushan. 

The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to interfere in the Centre's decision to deport 7 Rohingya refugees to Myanmar. 

The refugees, who have been in detention in Assam's Silchar since July 29, 2012, are to be handed over to the Myanmarese authorities today at the Moreh border post in Manipur. 

The plea that the Supreme Court intervene in the deportation had been filed by the lawyer Prashant Bhushan. 

News reports Thursday quoted Bhushan as telling the court that it was the state's responsibility to look after stateless citizens, which he said the Rohingya are. 

The court — the plea was heard by a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph — reportedly shot back that it was well aware of its duties.

The Centre had earlier told the Supreme Court that Myanmar had accepted the seven Rohingya refugees as citizens of that country and had agreed to take them back. 

“We don’t want to interfere with the Centre’s decision,” CJI Gogoi said on Thursday.

The special rapporteur on racism at the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees however has said the move might amount to refoulment — or the deliberate return of refugees to a place where they face persecution and the threat of violence. Refoulment is contrary to international law. 

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has added that the seven Rohingya should be allowed to make an "informed decision" about whether they wish to return, or claim asylum in India. 

On Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on India to pressure Myanmar into creating an environment conducive for the return of Rohingya refugees. He added that he had never seen a humanitarian crisis as grave as that of the Rohingya. 

The seven Rohingya refugees were identified in news reports as Md Jamal, Mohbul Khan, Jamal Hussain, Md Yonus, Sabir Ahmed, Rahim Uddin, and Md Salam. Authorities said they are in the age bracket of 26 to 32 years. 

The seven of them were bussed to Moreh on Wednesday. The handover was expected to take place on Thursday.