Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government attempted to remove the Rohingya, a Muslim minority from Myanmar who took refuge in India after fleeing persecution and waves of violence over the years.
Their petition added India’s constitution – which states that no one should be deprived of their life or personal liberty – as a matter of principle includes the concept of non-refoulement, which prohibits the deportation of refugees to a country where they are. likely to be submitted. persecution.
But Chief Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde said evictions could take place, as long as officials follow due process.
“It is not possible to grant the interim relief requested,” the judge said in his order. “Regarding the assertion raised on behalf of the petitioners about the current state of affairs in Myanmar, we must state that we cannot comment on something that is happening in another country.”
He added in the ordinance that India was not a signatory to the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and that the principle of non-refoulement was only applicable to member states. In addition, he added, India’s porous land borders translate into “a continuing threat of an influx of illegal immigrants”, which poses “serious ramifications for national security”.
India does not have legislation that specifically refers to refugees – so Rohingya refugees are often characterized as illegal immigrants liable to be deported by the government under the Aliens Act of 1946 and the Decree on the aliens of 1948.
Hundreds of people have been killed in Myanmar since the military seized power in a February 1 coup.
The move sparked panic among refugees in India, a Rohingya community leader in New Delhi told Reuters, declining to be named for fear of reprisal.
“This is a terrifying order issued by the highest court in India,” he said. “Given the horrific situation in Myanmar, I had really hoped the judge would rule in our favor.”
The Modi government claims the Rohingya are illegally in the country and pose a security threat. At least a dozen Rohingya have been deported since 2017, according to community leaders.