Court asks govt to enact law to protect refugees

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - 22:19

New Delhi: A Delhi court has asked the
Centre to enact a law to protect refugees and their rights
while refusing to order deportation of a Sri Lankan Tamil back
to his country on the ground that it would amount to the court
becoming a party to his persecution.

"A copy of this order be sent to the Secretary,
Legislative Department, Ministry of Law and Justice,
Government of India to table a copy of the Refugee and Asylum
Seekers (Protection) Bill, 2006 before Parliament,"
Metropolitan Magistrate Arul Verma said.

Stressing on the need to have a law to protect the
interest of refugees, the court said "the need for a refugee
law is immediate. The uniform treatment of refugees is a must
as long as India continues to accept asylum-seekers across its
porous borders."

The court dismissed the Centre`s plea to deport Sri
Lankan Tamil Chandra Kumar, convicted here earlier for trying
to flee to Italy on the basis of forged documents, accepting
the plea by his counsel that there is an imminent danger of
his persecution there and his family is still in India.

"How can the court become a party to the persecution of
an individual? The court cannot retrograde itself to the
position of a mute spectator... Handing over a person to a
nation where he fears persecution would make us nothing short
of abettors in that persecution," the court said.

It said the drafting of the Refugee and Asylum Seekers
(Protection) Bill, 2006 was a welcome step in the direction to
protect the rights of people like Chandra Kumar but it is
"unfortunate" that its has still not passed.

Had the bill been enacted, it would have gone a long way
in securing certain rights for the refugees, the judge said.

Kumar had been staying at a refugee camp in Thiruvallur
district, Tamil Nadu, since 1990 and was apprehended at Indira
Gandhi International Airport here. He was convicted on charges
of forgery, cheating, and criminal conspiracy and under provisions
of Indian Foreigners Act.

The prosecution in the case had sought deportation of
Kumar who had been in judicial custody for the last six

The counsel for Kumar had opposed his deportation saying
he had valid documents to stay in India and was in possession
of a refugee certificate.

He said the convict has a "well-founded fear of
persecution" if he is deported to Sri Lanka.

Accepting Kumar`s plea against his deportation, the court
let him off, modifying his sentence to jail term already
served by him.


First Published: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - 22:19
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