Today the Supreme Court denied interim relief for a petition filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan, challenging the detention of illegal Rohingya immigrants in Jammu and deporting the illegal immigrants back to their home country of Myanmar.
“It is not possible to grant the interim relief. However it is made clear that the Rohingyas in Jammu on whose behalf the application has been moved shall not be deported unless the procedure prescribed for such deportation is followed”, the Supreme Court said.
The Court did not order the release of illegal Rohingya immigrants detained in holding centers in Jammu and instead allowed their deportation back to their parent country of Myanmar, as per the procedure established by law.
A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna, and V Ramasubramaniam passed the order in an application moved by Mohammad Salimullah, who was represented by Prashant Bhushan, in a PIL filed for the sake of protecting illegal Rohingya immigrants from detention.
In a March 23 Supreme Court hearing, Prashant Bhushan placed reliance on the International Court of Justice decision regarding the Rohingya situation in Myanmar, despite the fact that ICJ decisions usually have no bearing on the Indian judicial system. Bhushan also argued about the principle of non-refoulment, which forbids the expulsion of any “refugee” if there is a clear and certain danger of life in the origin country.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that Rohingya deportation does not violate Article 21
The Solicitor General Tushar Mehta opposed the application on behalf of the Union Government, citing a similar case in Assam concerning illegal Rohingya immigrants which were dismissed in 2018. The Solicitor General (SG) also submitted that deportations are done in accordance with the procedure established by law, and therefore it cannot violate Article 21 of the Constitution.
The SG also disputed the term “refugees” used in the application to describe Rohingya, and instead called them “illegal migrants”
Senior Advocate Harish Salve also made an appearance in this case, on behalf of the Jammu and Kashmir government. He argued that the principle of non-refoulment does not apply and is non-binding as India is not a signatory to any international treaties mentioning this principle.
The CJI recognized that the danger illegal Rohingya immigrants face if deported back to their home country, but points out that it is not under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to manage that.
“Possibly that is the fear that if they go back to Myanmar they will be slaughtered. But we cannot control all that”, CJI said. “We are not called upon to condemn or condone genocide. We are certain that there should be no genocide in earth”, the CJI added.