New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday sought responses of the Centre and several state governments on a PIL seeking citizenship or refugee status to thousands of displaced persons of minority communities like Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians due to their alleged religious persecution in Bangladesh.
A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam agreed to hear the PIL filed by an NGO Swajan and issued notices to the governments excluding Jammu and Kashmir and southern states.
The petition stated that in spite of a specific mandate of Section 2 of Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act, 1950 protecting from expulsion of victims of civil disturbances, no measures have been taken either by the Centre or Assam to provide ameliorative steps for displaced persons.
It was submitted that citizenship was granted to similarly affected persons from Pakistan and Bangladesh by Citizenship (Amendment) Rules, 2004, for minority Hindu community people who were displaced as a result of the 1965 and 1971 wars between India and Pakistan and they were settled in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
"A new procedure was worked out between the years 2004 and 2007 by an executive action by the Centre. This facilitated the grant of citizenship of India to these persons under the provisions of Citizenship Act, 1955," the petition said.
"In the facts of the present case, the displaced persons also deserve protection in our country and the status of refugees under the International Conventions, namely the Refugee Convention, 1951, and 1967 Protocol Relating to Status of Refugees, Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment, New York, 1984 and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, 2006," it said.
The NGOs submitted that in the past, too in the cases of refugees from Tibet, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Myanmar and also Chakma refugees from Bangladesh settled in parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura. The government of India has consistently followed the policy of granting them citizenship or refugee status.