A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra was hearing the petition filed by Rohingya Muslims challenging the government's stand to deport them back to Myanmar. The Bench said that national and economic interests are important while dealing with humanitarian issues.
The apex court had asked the Centre and two Rohingya Muslims, who have challenged to deport refugees to Myanmar, to desist from making emotional arguments and personal attacks and to file documents, including worldwide conventions. They are largely located in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR and Rajasthan.
The government also said if allowed to stay, the Rohingya refugees would exhaust natural resources meant for Indians that could culminate in hostility towards them and lead to social tension and law and order problems. "If you (Centre) take any kind of contingency plan, you need to inform this court", the court told Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the government. Around 40,000 Rohingyas are residing in India illegally, as per some inputs. The persecution has forced tens of thousands to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh, from where many come to India.
"The government is constitutionally obligated to protect threatened groups of foreign nationals".
The Supreme Court said today the Indian government must balance national security with humanity and directed the Centre not to deport Rohingyas till the case is heard.
"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". In an open letter, 51 prominent names including Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, former home minister P Chidambaram, former Union home secretary G K Pillai among others, observed that as an aspiring global leader, India can not afford to adopt a "shortsighted approach".