Supreme Court quashes petition against deportation of Rohingya from Jammu and Kashmir

Prabhakar Mishra, New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a petition seeking the release of at least 150 Rohingya refugees from Jammu sub-jail and to stop their deportation.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde said the deportation of Rohingya refugees from Jammu should follow due process, including proper identification and acceptance of their citizenship by the Government of Myanmar.

A bench of judges like Bopanna and V Ramasubramaniam said, “No Rohingya from Jammu will be deported without the procedure to be followed in such cases.”

On March 26, the Center opposed Mohammed Salimullah’s plea that India could not become the international capital of illegal migrants.

The government called the Rohingya “completely illegal immigrants”, posing a “serious threat to national security”. It also stated that the right to settle in India cannot be accepted by illegal migrants under the guise of Article 21 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to life and liberty.

On March 6, on the instructions of the Union Home Ministry, the Jammu and Kashmir administration started a verification operation of the Rohingyas and some of them were transferred to a holding center, pending their possible deportation.

There are close to 7,000 Rohingya refugees in Jammu and Kashmir, which has increased since the 2000s when they first arrived in the region after fleeing Myanmar, where they faced religious persecution. India has previously deported Rohingya refugees.

Appealing to the Center, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said on March 26 that a similar application was rejected by the apex court in 2018 to prevent the Rohingya from being brought out of Assam and the present application should be looked into on the same basis.

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He said that the Center has started the process of deporting the Rohingya after receiving confirmation from the Myanmar government about his nationality and that the top court should clarify the “diplomatic issue” as it is within the exclusive domain of the executive.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing the Jammu and Kashmir administration, warned the bench against “starting a dangerous trend” by intervening on a topic related to illegal immigrants and diplomatic relations with another country.

Salimulla’s lawyer, Prashant Bhushan, presented his case on a January 2020 judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which highlighted the persecution of the Rohingya in Myanmar.

The center’s affidavit states that before illegal immigrants they must secure the interests of their citizens, who, in addition to the threat of security, are burdening the country’s already dwindling natural resources.

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