The Centre on Monday claimed that the PILs seeking to block the deportation of the Rohingyas from India threaten to change the country’s demography and destabilise it.
“Go into the question which is the genesis of it (PILs). Who wants to change the demography, destabilise and disintegrate the country? Sovereignty of the nation is paramount,” the Centre told the three-judge bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench that there were “diplomatic solutions” to solve the refugee problem. He also told the court that actions are being worked out between India, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
The Centre also urged the court not to pass an order on a plea by Prashant Bushan, the counsel for the Rohingyas, who asked the court to make the government “adhere” to its promise of providing basic amenities including medical and educational facilities to Rohingya refugees as stated in an affidavit.
“Don’t pass an order”, Mehta said, asserting that basic amenities were being provided in the refugee camps. He dared the petitioners to bring facts contradicting the government position.
The Supreme Court bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, refused to pass an interim order on the plea seeking to ensure health and educational facilities Rohingyas.
“We will not pass any interim order with regard to ensuring health and educational facilities for Rohingya refugees unless petitioners bring some material contradicting the claims of the Centre,” the bench said.
When Mehta asked “what interests are being projected”, Bhushan retorted, “Interests of humanity are being projected”.
In his argument, senior counsel Ashwini Kumar, appearing for one of the petitioners, questioned the Centre’s claim of “destabilisation” saying that “the bogey” was being raised on every plea concerning human rights.
The apex court had on 7 March sought the Centre’s response on a plea of two Rohingya refugees – Mohammad Salimullah and Mohammad Shaqir – seeking education and healthcare on the lines of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees who are given such facilities in Tamil Nadu.
However, the Centre in its affidavit had opposed the plea saying that the comparison with Sri Lankan refugees was “ill-founded and misconceived”.
The court is hearing a batch of petitions seeking to block the deportation of Rohingya refugees and seeking basic amenities for them including access to hospital and admission to their children in schools.
The court directed the next hearing of the matter on 9 April.
(With inputs from agencies.)