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Supreme Court says human rights of Rohingya refugees can not be ignored

13 October 2017

It is not an ordinary case.

The Supreme Court on Friday granted more time to all concerned parties to file a reply in connection with the issue of deportation of Rohingyas.

News agency ANI quoted the SC bench as saying that national importance can not be secondary and at the same time, the human rights of the Rohingyas should be kept in mind.

The UN's human rights chief has criticised India's decision as lacking "basic human compassion".

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that "this is an issue involving global ramifications".

A Rohingya petitioner had on September 23 told the top court that they were not illegal immigrants but refugees who fled Myanmar and came to India for shelter in wake of their persecution on the grounds of their religion and community identity and were entitled to all protection under the worldwide conventions on refugees and treaties.

Another Rohingya refugee then filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court denying the Indian government's claims that the Muslim community from Myanmar has terror links with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Islamic State.

The court said the government should not deport the refugees, but did not pass a formal order putting any restrictions. "A balance must be maintained between national interest and humanitarian duties", the court observed. Deferring the matter to November 21, the Supreme Court, however, allowed the Rohingya petitioners to approach it in case of any contingency.

Close to 40,000 Rohingya Muslims live in India after fleeing Myanmar over the past decade. The court said our constitutional ethos makes us lean sympathetically towards humanitarian issues. The persecution has forced tens of thousands to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh, from where many come to India.

Rohingya Muslims are a minority in Myanmar's Rakhine where government forces have allegedly carried out summary executions, serial rapes and burned down entire villages.

Supreme Court says human rights of Rohingya refugees can not be ignored