SC Agrees to Hear Plea on ‘Illegal Detention’ of Rohingya Refugees

Rohingya Refugees

The Supreme Court agreed on Thursday to hear a plea in March that seeks direction for the government to release Rohingya refugees who have been “illegally and arbitrarily” detained in jails and detention centers across the country.

A bench comprising Justice B R Gavai and Justice Sandeep Mehta concurred to list the plea after advocate Prashant Bhushan brought up the matter, noting that it hadn’t been scheduled for a hearing. Bhushan pointed out that despite the Centre being served notice, it hadn’t submitted its reply as of yet. He emphasized the urgency of the matter, stating that numerous Rohingya refugees are languishing in various parts of the country.

The apex court stated it would schedule the matter for March. Previously, on October 10 last year, the top court had issued notice to the Centre, seeking its response within four weeks. Bhushan, representing petitioner Priyali Sur, had argued that many Rohingya refugees are detained across the country and advocated for their release to safeguard their rights to life and equality before the law under Article 21 and Article 14 of the Constitution.

Sur’s plea highlighted that Rohingyas, an ethnic minority from Myanmar’s Rakhine state, have faced severe persecution, termed as genocide and crimes against humanity by the United Nations and the International Court of Justice. Despite being recognized as refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Rohingya refugees in India are labeled as “illegal immigrants” and subjected to inhumane treatment and restrictions.

The plea underscored that hundreds of Rohingya refugees, including pregnant women and minors, are unlawfully and indefinitely detained in jails and detention centers across India. It called for direction to the Centre to release the unlawfully detained Rohingyas and refrain from arbitrary detention under the Foreigners Act.

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