The Supreme Court on Friday said that the Rohingya refugee problem was of a “great magnitude” and the state would have to play a “big role” in striking a balance between national interests and human rights while dealing with the contentious issue.
The apex court, which decided to give a detailed and “holistic hearing” from 21 November on the governments decision to deport Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar, observed that a balance has to be struck between national interest and human rights as the issue involved national security, economic interests and humanity.
“It is a large issue. A issue of great magnitude. Therefore, the state has a big role. The role of the state in such a situation has to be multi-pronged. Children and women do not know anything about it. As a Constitutional court, we cannot be totally oblivious to this. Similarly, we do not expect the executive to be oblivious of it either,” the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, was quoted by PTI.
There are around 40,000 Rohingya refugees currently living in India in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR and Rajasthan. They had fled the state-sponsored persecution by Buddhist terrorists in Rakhine state. More than 4 lakh of them have recently fled to Bangladesh while nearly 500 of them been massacred by Burmese army supported by disgraced Nobel laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also told the Centre not to deport the Rohingya refugees, but Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta requested that it should not be written in the order as anything coming on record would have international ramifications.
The top court, however, made it clear that in case any contingency arose during the intervening period, the petitioners had the liberty to approach it for redressal.
The bench said, “Children and women do not know anything about it. As a constitutional court, we cannot be oblivious to it. We expect that the executive will not be oblivious to it,” the bench said and told the government, “Do not deport. You take action if something wrong is found”.
However, ASG Mehta urged the bench that it should not be written in the courts order as it would have international ramifications.
Senior advocate Fali S Nariman, representing the petitioner, said all Rohingyas, be they Muslims or Hindus, are not terrorists and the government cannot pass a “blanket order” like this.
The bench also made it clear that there was a need for a holistic hearing and it would neither be swayed by the arguments of Nariman, nor by of any other senior counsel and the submissions would have to go by the letter of the law.
“We will not permit any emotional arguments,” it said.
In a communication to all states, the union home ministry had said that the rise of terrorism in last few decades has become a serious concern for most nations as illegal migrants are prone to getting recruited by terrorist organisations.
It had directed the state governments to set up a task force at district level to identify and deport illegally- staying foreign nationals.