SC asks Centre's response on plea seeking release of detained Rohingya refugeestext_fields
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a notice to the Centre on a plea seeking direction to the government to release Rohingya refugees who have been "illegally and arbitrarily" detained in jails, detention centres, or juvenile homes across the country.
A bench of Justices BR Gavai and Prashant Kumar Mishra sought the Centre’s response to the plea within four weeks.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioner Priyali Sur submitted that many Rohingya refugees have been detained in facilities across the country, and sought their release in order to protect their right to life and equality before the law under Article 21 and Article 14 of the Constitution.
According to Sur’s plea, the Rohingya are an ethnic minority from Rakhine state in Myanmar and they have been described by the United Nations as the world’s most persecuted ethnic minority.
"They have a history of statelessness since 1980, primarily as a consequence of the 1982 Citizenship Law enacted in Mynamar, which effectively stripped them of their citizenship," it said.
Rohingya refugees have fled to neighbouring countries, including India, to escape persecution dubbed by the United Nations and the International Court of Justice as genocide and crime against humanity, the petition said, adding that despite this background of persecution and discrimination, the Rohingya refugees in India are officially labelled as "illegal immigrants'' and face inhumane treatment and restrictions.
"These include arbitrary arrests and unlawful detentions, limits on freedom of movement outside of camps, limited access to education, limited or no access to basic health care and legal services or any formal employment opportunities," it said.
Hundreds of Rohingya refugees, including pregnant women and minors, have been detained unlawfully and indefinitely in jails and detention centres across India, despite the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recognising their status as refugees, it added.
The plea sought direction to the Centre to release Rohingya who have been detained illegally and arbitrarily, either without assigning a reason or for violation of the provisions of the Foreigners Act.
It also sought direction to the government to refrain from arbitrarily detaining any Rohingya accusing them of being illegal immigrants or under the Foreigners Act.
With inputs from PTI