In a blow to the Union government, the Supreme Court (SC) on Friday stayed the Centre’s plan to deport all illegal Rohingya immigrants till the next hearing in the case on November 21.

Stressing that the State has a big role to play, the apex court said the issue of Rohingya Muslims was of “great magnitude”.

“We can’t ignore old women and children among Rohingyas… A balance must be maintained between national interest and humanitarian duties,” the court observed.

Granted more time to all the parties to argue, the court posted the matter for further hearing on November 21.

However, it also allowed petitioners to approach it in case of any contingency.

The Centre has made its stand clear that all illegal Rohingya immigrants will be sent back to Myanmar. However, a plea filed eminent citizens of the country has challenged the government’s decision.

The Rohingya refugees, a persecuted community of Muslims from Myanmar have fled the country in large numbers.

Close to 40,000 Rohingya Muslims live in India after fleeing Myanmar over the past decade. Nearly 15,000 have received refugee documentation, according to the United Nations, but India wants to deport them all.