Indian court stops deportation of an Eezham Tamil

[TamilNet, Thursday, 22 September 2011, 10:48 GMT]
A magistrate court in Delhi on Tuesday rejected the plea of the Indian government to deport an Eezham Tamil to Sri Lanka as a part of punishment. “Handing over a refugee to Sri Lanka where he fears persecution will make us nothing short of abettors,” observed Arul Varma, the judge of the Metropolitan Magistrate Court, in a case filed against Chandra Kumar, who has been living in a refugee camp at Thiruva’l’loor for 20 years but got caught recently by immigration while attempting to leave for Italy seeking better life. He was charged with cheating, forgery, impersonation and other offences. The public prosecutor on instructions from the government sought deportation as part of the order on sentence. Besides rejecting deportation, the judge released Chandra Kumar saying that the six months he had already spent in prison was enough punishment.

The judge asked Chandra Kumar to report back to his refugee camp in Gummidipoondi Taluk in the Thiruva’l’loor district of Tamil Nadu.

Indians and non-citizens “are to be treated equally as far as Article 21 of the Constitution (right to life and liberty) is concerned. The very idea of deporting the convict herein to his country of origin, where he has a well-founded fear of persecution, would not be in consonance with the principles of natural justice. 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,” the Judge was cited saying by The Hindu, Wednesday.

“India needs to live up to its humanitarian goals,” the court said, lamenting at the lacuna in the Indian legal system in dealing with refugees.

The existing law is the “Foreigner’s Act” enacted in 1946 in the times of the British Raj.

“Refugees are treated as foreigners under the extant laws of our country. However, it will be extremely important to understand that a refugee cannot be placed on the same platform, on which illegal migrants, tourists and other ‘foreigners' are placed,” the court said.

Considering the need for exclusive laws to deal with the problems of refugees, The Refugee and Asylum Seekers (Protection) Bill, 2006 was drafted after due deliberations and consultations with eminent jurists, but unfortunately the bill has not seen the light of the day, Judge Arul Varma regretted.


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