New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre to be sensitive to the plight of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar who has come to India as refugees and have a multi pronged approach to tackle this humanitarian issue. The Centre must strike a balance between human rights and national security interests, it said.
Initially a three-judge Bench of Chief Justice and Justices A M Kanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud wanted to pass an order that Rohingya Muslims should not be deported till the court took a final decision on November 21 after a detailed hearing. But Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta persuaded the court not to pass any such order, as it would have wide international ramifications.
Senior counsel Fali Nariman, appearing for the petitioner refugees, sought liberty to make an urgent `mention’ if any contingency of deportation arose.
When the ASG said so far the contingency has not arisen, the CJI observed, “We understand that you (Centre) may not want an order from us. But you do not give any room for such contingency.”
The Bench reordered the submission of Nariman and said liberty to mention was also there.
The CJI asked the government to strike a balance between human rights and national security when it comes to dealing with refugees in the country. Saying that the court can’t be oblivious to plight of innocent kids and women, the CJI called for a balancing act.
Referring to the Centre’s stand that the matter was not justiciable as it was a policy matter, the CJI told the ASG “our constitutional ethos make us lean sympathetically towards humanitarian issue."
The CJI said, “It is a humanitarian issue. We also have to see the competing interests of national interest, economic interest, labour interest, demographic considerations and also the protection of women, children, sick and infirm. You can take action against a terrorist, but innocents should not suffer.”
The CJI made it clear to all lawyers “We are not going to be swayed away by emotions. We will strictly go by law. We will not permit any emotional arguments. We are treating the issue holistically and we are thinking how to strike a balance.”
Earlier, Nariman rejected the Centre’s stand that the issue is non justiciable.
Nariman pointed out that this position of the government is absurd in light of the fact that Article 14 and 21 rights under the Constitution are available to all “persons” as well as the Article 32 right to move the court. He took exception to the government trying to paint all Rohingyas as terrorists and said this argument was absurd as there, are women, children, sick and infirm who are not terrorists.
Nariman said if the government had any specific information about any Rohingya persons being terrorists, those people could be excluded but he opposed en mass deportation. The Bench deferred the matter till November 21 for a detailed hearing.