The Supreme Court on Thursday, April 7, ruled that Rohingya refugees detained in Jammu should not be deported to Myanmar unless the authorities followed the prescribed procedure for such deportation.
A bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) S A Bobde issued its order on a plea filed by Mohammed Salimullah, a Rohingya refugee, through Advocate Prashant Bhushan.
Earlier, the Centre had opposed the petition, claiming that the country could not be a "capital" for illegal immigrants.
"These refugees have been illegally detained and jailed in the Jammu Sub Jail, which has been converted into a holding centre with the IGP (Jammu) Mukesh Singh stating that they face deportation back to Myanmar following verification by their embassy," The Indian Express quoted the plea as saying.
"This goes against India's commitment to refugee protection and its obligations against refouling refugees to a place where they face persecution and is a violation of the Article 21 rights of all Rohingya persons living in India," the plea said, referring to reports of their imminent deportation.
However, the Supreme Court's decision ensured that Rohingyas would now be deported back to Myanmar, denying a clause in the plea that aimed to halt the deportation process and provide Rohingyas with refugee cards.
Earlier this month, The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and human rights groups slammed India's decision to deport a 14-year-old Rohingya girl to Myanmar.
Last month, the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) administration had set up 'holding centres' under the Foreigners Act in Kathua's Hiranagar sub-jail and rounded up 168 Rohingya refugees from Jammu, which included women and children and placed them there.
Thousands of Rohingya tribals from the western Rakhine state in Myanmar had escaped to India and Bangladesh following an alleged violent attack by the Myanmar Army. Those who entered India settled in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR Rajasthan.