An interim application was filed before the Supreme Court on Thursday through Advocate Prashant Bhusan, who was last year convicted of contempt of court, seeking urgent intervention to release the illegal Rohingya immigrants detained in Jammu. The interim application has reportedly been filed by a Rohingya named Mohammad Salimullah and has been drawn by Advocate Cheryl Dsouza.
Application seeks directions to the UNHCR to issue refugee cards to refugees in India
According to reports, the interim application has sought directions to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to assess the protection needs of the illegal immigrants and grant refugee cards not only to Rohingyas but to refugees across the country. The relief through the interim application has been sought in a writ petition pending before the Apex court. The application has sought directions for the Jammu government and the Ministry of Home Affairs to grant refugee identification cards to Rohingyas through the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO). The application also sought directions to the central government not to implement the deportation orders of the detained Rohingyas in Jammu.
The application alleged that the government discriminated against Rohingyas
The application reportedly states that due to absence of any law in India to deal with refugees, Rohingya have often been clubbed with the class of illegal immigrants who may be deported by the government under the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Foreigners Order 1948. The application alleged discrimination on the part of the government against Rohingya refugees due to their identity as Muslims.
The application claims that India is bound by the principle of non-refoulement under the international customary law that prevents a country from sending refugees back to a place where they faced persecution. The principle has been mentioned in Article 33 (1) of the United Nations Convention on Status of Refugees (1951). It referred to an Supreme Court ruling (in National Human Rights Commission v State of Arunachal Pradesh) wherein the court held that the right to life and personal liberty is available to citizens and non-citizens alike.
The principle of non-refoulement has an exception according to which refugee or asylum seekers who have been granted temporary residency can be made liable to expulsion on the ground of threat to national security. However, the application claimed that the exception did not apply to Rohingyas in India. It said that the exception does not provide a free pass to deport refugees back to the country where they face danger.
Application filed a 2017 writ seeking protection of refugees’ right against deportation
The application was filed in a 2017 writ petition seeking protection of right against deportation of refugees including Rohingyas. It alleged that the government has failed to ensure protection to Rohingya community by proposing to deport them to Myanmar where they face persecution.
According to reports, as part of the ongoing exercise to identify illegal immigrants among the Rohingyas living in Jammu and Kashmir, many Rohingyas were sent to a holding centre under section 3(2)e of the Foreigners Act. The immigrants were not holding valid travel dovcuments as required under section 3 of the Passports Act. Their nationality check will be conducted thereafter which illegal immigrants will be deported.