A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra will today hear a petition filed by Rohingya Muslims in India challenging the government’s decision to send them back to Myanmar.
The bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, had said on October 3 that it will hear in detail various aspects of the matter, including the Centre's preliminary objection to the petition on grounds that the issue fell under the domain of the executive.
The apex court had asked Centre and two Rohingya Muslim petitioners to compile all documents and international conventions for assisting the court.
The court had also made it clear that it will hear the arguments only on the points of law and asked the parties to desist from advancing emotional arguments as the matter concerned humanitarian cause and humanity, which required to be heard with mutual respect.
The plea, filed by two Rohingya immigrants, Mohammad Salimullah and Mohammad Shaqir, claims they had taken refuge in India after escaping from Myanmar due to widespread discrimination, violence and bloodshed against the community there.
Many of those, who had fled to India after the earlier spate of violence, are settled in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR and Rajasthan.
Senior advocate Fali S Nariman, appearing for the petitioner Rohingya refugees, opposed the government stand and said the petition under Article 32 was maintainable as the Constitution guaranteed individual rights.
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that the government would not like the matter to be heard in a piecemeal manner as it has wide ramifications and added that it would prefer a day for detailed hearing.
Citizens urge PM Modi to reconsider stand
On Monday, a day before the hearing in Supreme Court, a group of 51 eminent citizens have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reconsider its approach on the Rohingya issue.
The two-page letter, released by Amnesty International India deals exclusively with the Rohingya crisis and the Indian government's response to it.
The letter urges the Modi government to lead a "global response" to the "humanitarian tragedy" that is unfolding in Myanmar's Rakhine and prepare a "bold vision" that addresses the needs of thousands of Rohingya who have fled their homes in the wake of violence that has gripped the state.
"It would be against India's own humanitarian principles and traditions, its obligations under international law, as well as its own constitutional provisions to deport the 40,000 Rohingya refugees" currently in the country, the letter says.
"The government is constitutionally obligated to protect threatened groups of foreign nationals."
The letter further states that the Indian government's justification to deport Rohingya Muslims "is premised on the false assumption that all Rohingya people present a potential threat to national security... This is simply not the case, and the evidence to support these assertions have not held up."
"If any refugees or asylum seekers are found to be engaging in criminal activities, they must be prosecuted in accordance with due legal processes. However, this should not be used an excuse to mete out collective punishment to an entire community," it says, adding that India must "exert its diplomatic clout to pressurise the Government of Myanmar to end the security crackdown in Rakhine".
Signatories to the letter include ex-Finance minister P Chidambaram, Congress leader Sashi Tharoor, lawyer Prashant Bhushan, former Union Home secretary GK Pillai, Member of Parliament Majeed Memon, former Army officer and columnist Ajai Shukla, activist Teesta Setalvad, and actress Swara Bhaskar.