In this photo taken on Sept. 8, 2012, Muslims gather during a visit by a delegation of American diplomats including U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar Derek Mitchell, unseen, at a refugee camp in Sittwe, Rakhine State, western Myanmar. Three-and-a-half months after some of the bloodiest clashes in a generation between Myanmar’s ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and stateless Muslims known as Rohingya left the western town of Sittwe in flames, nobody is quite sure when -or even if- the Rohingya will be allowed to resume the lives they once lived here. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)

The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that the Rohingya Muslims are “illegal” immigrants in the country and their continuous stay posed “serious national security ramifications.”

The Centre’s affidavit, filed in the apex court registry, said the fundamental right to reside and settle in any part of the country is available to citizens only and illegal refugees cannot invoke the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to enforce the right. It also told the SC that the decision whether or not to allow refugees to settle in the country was best left to the Executive. The Supreme Court had told the government to file the affidavit after a plea was put before it against the deportation of the illegal immigrants to Myanmar.

Earlier during the day, a Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra considered the statement of ASG Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, that the reply would be filed later on Monday and fixed the PIL challenging the deportation of Rohingya for hearing on October 3.

“As evident from the constitutional guarantee flowing from Article 19 of the Constitution, the right to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India as well as right to move freely throughout the territory of India is available only to the citizens of India… No illegal immigrant can pray for a writ of this Court which directly or indirectly confers the fundamental rights in general…,” the affidavit filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs said.

The plea was filed by Mohammad Salimullah and Mohammad Shaqir, both Rohingya immigrants, who are registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Both the immigrants plea that they escaped Myanmar on account of widespread violence, bloodshed, discrimination and persecution against the Rohingyas.

Speaking on the issue earlier on Monday to ANI, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said: “It is a sensitive matter. Whatever Govt of India will do, will be in nation’s interest. Our way forward will be based on nation’s interest & we’ll mention the same in our affidavit to be submitted in the Supreme Court.”
Hitting out at human rights groups’ criticism towards the Centre’s stand on the issue, he said: “I request international human rights’ bodies to not spread misinformation about India and the Indian govt; protecting the nation is our duty.”, stated the Indian Express.


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