New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday deferred the deportation of Rohingya Muslim refugees from India till its next hearing on November 21 and said there is not an "iota of doubt" that a humanitarian approach should be taken on the matter.
In a strongly-worded observation, the Supreme Court reminded the government that it has multiple responsibilities, and must balance national and humanitarian values. It said the Rohingya Muslims issue is of great magnitude and the state has a big role to play.
"The Constitution is based on humanitarian values. The state has a multi-pronged role. While national security and economic interests need to be secured, innocent women and children cannot be ignored," the apex court said.
Deferring the matter to November 21, the Supreme Court, however, allowed the Rohingya petitioners to approach it in case of any contingency.
Earlier, the Centre in an affidavit had termed Rohingya refugees as "illegal" immigrants and said some of them were part of a "sinister" design of Pakistan's ISI and terror groups such as the ISIS, whose presence in the country will pose a "serious" national security threat.
The affidavit was submitted in response to a plea filed by the Rohingya immigrants, claiming they had taken refuge in India after escaping from Myanmar due to widespread discrimination, violence and bloodshed against the community there.
Earlier this week, a group of eminent personalities had urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to not deport Rohingya refugees and asylum-seekers, saying a proposal that the entire community is a threat to national security is basedon "false assumption".
In an open letter, 51 prominent names including Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, former home minister P Chidambaram, former Union home secretary G K Pillai among others, observed that as an aspiring global leader, India cannot afford to adopt a "shortsighted approach".