Factor in the safety of women and children Rohingya refugees: SC to Modi govt

The SC was hearing a petition by the West Bengal Commission for the Protection of Child Rights. Separately, the UN said that violence against Rohingya Muslims may amount to crimes against humanity.

PTI photo
PTI photo

NH Web Desk

The security of women and children must be considered while deciding the fate of nearly 40,000 Rohingya refugees, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday.

The three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Mishra, was hearing two cases clubbed together- one filed by the West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights (WBCPCR) and the other by a New Delhi-based Rohingya refugee Salimullah.

The bench, which also had Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud on it, remarked that “the arguments need to be factual and based on legal points but the humanitarian angle must also be taken care of.”

Through a notification on August 8, Centre had directed the state authorities to identify and deport illegal immigrants, including 40,000-odd Rohingya refugees.

Represented by noted lawyer Kalyan Bandyopadhyay, the WBCPCR argued that the Indian Constitution guaranteed protection of Rohingya children who escaped Myanmar due to “widespread discrimination, violence and bloodshed.”

“Presently within the state of West Bengal, there are 24 Rohingya Children in the Shelter Home and 20 Children residing in the Correctional Homes with their mother being less than 6 years of age,” the WBCPCR petition pointed out.

Besides being in violation of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution, the deportation act would also breach the international principle of non-refoulement (a principal which forbids a country from sending back asylum seekers to their home country where there are facing persecution).

The next hearing in the case is scheduled to take place on October 13.

The hearing came on the back of a separate appeal on the same day by the United Nations committee for women’s and children’s rights asking Myanmar to halt violence against Rohingya Muslims.

“We are particularly worried about the fate of Rohingya women and children subject to serious violations of their human rights, including killings, rape and forced displacement,” the UN committee said in a statement.

According to Reuters, the UN body remarked that the violations “may amount to crimes against humanity.”

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