New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday made clear to the Centre and two Rohingya Muslims, who have challenged any move to deport illegal refugees to Myanmar, to desist from making emotional arguments and personal attacks and asked them to file documents, including international conventions.
The apex court, which fixed a batch pleas for and against the Rohingyas for hearing on October 13, said it will hear arguments only on the points of law as the matter concerned humanitarian cause and humanity which required to be heard with mutual respect.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra asked the Centre and the two Rohingya Muslim refugees, who have filed the petition, to compile all documents and international conventions before the next date of hearing for assisting it.
The bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, said it will hear in details various aspects of the matter including the Centre's preliminary objection that the issue fell under the domain of the executive and hence was "not justiciable".
At the outset, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, said the rejoinder affidavit of two Rohingya petitioners needed to be replied to and moreover, two fresh petitions were filed during the recent court vacation.
He sought listing of the matters on some other date for a detailed hearing and submitted that the government would not like the matter to be heard in a piecemeal manner as it had wide ramifications.
Senior advocate Fali S Nariman, appearing for Rohingya immigrants Mohammad Salimullah and Mohammad Shaqir, started his submission on a lighter vein, saying "I am the original refugee from Burma" and had migrated from "British Burma to British India".
He assailed the Centre's stand that illegal refugees cannot claim protection of their fundamental rights under the Constitution as it would adversely affect the rights of Indian citizens and that the issue was "not justiciable".
"Humanitarian concern for children, women, the sick outweigh justiciability," Nariman said, adding the objection that the matter was "not justiciable" was very serious as the Constitution protects the rights of non-citizens as well.
"The rights of the persons who happen to be in India deserve constitutional protection," he said, adding that the government was contradicting itself while referring to a past notification on ways to deal with migrants, mostly Hindus and Buddhists, from Pakistan and Bangladesh who had suffered persecution.
He said terrorists from any group should be dealt with as per the law but simultaneously, innocent refugees including women and children need protection.
A terse response of senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for the National Human Rights Commission, to the Centre's objections was strongly contested by
ASG Mehta who said "one does not need to abuse to counter".
Summing up the arguments advanced by Nariman, the bench said the government cannot "simply paint" everybody as a terrorist and that India is a signatory to various international conventions.
On the issue of non-justiciabilty, the bench observed that the court should be "very slow in abdicating its jurisdiction".
Earlier, the Centre in an affidavit had termed Rohingya refugees as "illegal" immigrants and said some of them were part of a "sinister" design of Pakistan's ISI and terror groups such as the ISIS, whose presence in the country will pose a "serious" national security threat.
The affidavit was submitted in response to a plea filed by the Rohingya immigrants, claiming they had taken refuge in India after escaping from Myanmar due to widespread discrimination, violence and bloodshed against the community there.
Various other petitions, including those by former RSS ideologue and Rashtriya Swabhiman Andolan leader KN Govindacharaya, the West Bengal child rights body and BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, have been filed in the apex court on the issue.