Rohingya refugees: Supreme Court agrees to hear plea on March 25

Rohingya refugees: Supreme Court agrees to hear plea on March 25

On Thursday, the apex Court has agreed to hear a plea to release and protect over 150 Rohingya refugees who are detained in Jammu. The bench has asked solicitor general Tushar Mehta to come with a response to the plea on March 25.  

Since 2017, thousands of Muslim Rohingya had fled Myanmar. These Rohingyas have been staying in the Indian Union Territory Jammu and Kashmir. Under the Foreigners Act, over 150 Rohingya refugees were sent to a holding centre in Jammu recently. The administration had said it will work on their deportation next to Myanmar.

The Jammu & Kashmir administration’s process to identify undocumented immigrants in the Union Territory began on March 6th. Officials have claimed that due process of law was followed. They said that the immigrants who were sent to the centre did not carry any valid travel documents.

Mohammad Salimullah, member of the Rohingya community, filed a case through advocates Prashant Bhushan and Cheryl d’Souza and requested the court to stop the Centre from implementing any orders on deporting the refugees.  Salimullah cited news reports of “detention” of around 150 refugees in a “temporary jail” for their deportation.

Advocate Bhushan requested an urgent hearing of the plea and said, “An urgent intervention was required since those ‘detained’ in Jammu could be deported anytime to Myanmar, where they fled from fearing persecution. There is a military government in Myanmar now. Their life is under threat.”

Bhushan referred to the latest military coup in Myanmar in February.

Solicitor General Mehta said Bhushan’s submissions were “factually incorrect”.  

The plea stated, “This follows the Union Minister Jitendra Singh’s statements two months ago that the Rohingya (identified as Muslim refugees by the government) would not be able to secure citizenship. These refugees have been illegally detained and jailed in the Jammu sub-jail, which has been converted into a holding centre with the IGP (inspector general of police, Jammu) Mukesh Singh stating that they face deportation back to Myanmar following verification by their embassy.”

The plea seeks to order the release of the Rohingya refugees immediately. It wants the government to expeditiously grant refugee identification cards to them.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde has slated the hearing for 25th March.

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