NEW DELHI: The Government of India on Monday filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court’s registry that Rohingya Muslims were illegal immigrants in the country and posed “serious security threats”.
The affidavit said that the fundamental right to reside in any part of the country is available to citizens only and illegal refugees cannot invoke the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to claim the right.
Earlier in the day, a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra considered the statement of ASG Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, that the reply would be filed later in the day, and fixed the PIL challenging the deportation of Rohingyas for hearing on October 3.
“As evident from the constitutional guarantee flowing from Article 19 of the Constitution, the right to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India as well as the right to move freely throughout the territory of India is available only to the citizens of India… No illegal immigrant can pray for a writ of this Court which directly or indirectly confers the fundamental rights in general…,” the affidavit filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs said.
The Centre said that the Rohingya refugees posed a grave security threat. “It is submitted that continuance of Rohingyas’ illegal immigration into India and their continued stay in India, apart from being absolutely illegal, is found to be having serious national security ramifications and has serious security threats,” it said.
The government said it may file in sealed cover the details of the security threats, based on inputs gathered by various security agencies.
The Centre said that since India is not a signatory to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951, the obligations concerned to non-refoulement (prohibition on return of refugees to their country) is not applicable.
“It is submitted that this obligation is binding only in respect of the States which are parties to the Convention. Since India is not a party to the said Convention or the said Protocol, the obligations contained therein are not applicable to India,” it said.
The bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, did not issue a notice to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which had on August 18 issued a notice to the Centre on the issue of deportation of Rohingya refugees.
The plea before the Supreme Court, filed by two Rohingya immigrants, Mohammad Salimullah and Mohammad Shaqir, who are registered refugees under the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), claimed they had taken refuge in India after escaping from Myanmar due to widespread discrimination, violence and bloodshed against the community there.
Violence against the Rohingya Muslims living in the western Rakhine state of Myanmar has made thousands of them flee to India and Bangladesh. Many of those who fled to India are living in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR and Rajasthan.
The Indian government recently extended its “strong” support to the Myanmarese government on the Rohingya issue.