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Communally Altered Humanitarianism, says PIL challenging laws on entry of persecuted communities

The PIL comes at the backdrop of Modi government's strong opposition to stay of Rohingya Muslim refugees in India

Tuesday December 25, 2018 1:04 PM, ummid.com News Network

PIL Challenging Passport Rules

New Delhi: A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed with the Supreme Court of India termed "Communally Altered Humanitarianism" the Passport (Entry into India) Amendment Rules, 2015 which regularise the entry and stay in India, of people from six communities which claim to be victims of religious persecution in their own countries.

The Passport (Entry into India) Amendment Rules, 2015 exempt from the requirement of a passport to enter India, people belonging to minority communities in Bangladesh and Pakistan, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, who were compelled to seek shelter in India due to religious prosecution or fear of religious persecution. The Rules state that these people should have entered India on or before December 31, 2014.

The petition filed by the Nagarikatwa Aain Songsudhan Birodhi Mancha (Forum Against Citizenship Act Amendment Bill), a copy of which is published online by LiveLaw.in, claims that these sub-ordinate legislations have diluted the meaning of an “illegal migrant”, as defined under Section 2(b) of The Citizenship Act, 1955, without first amending this provision.

“The sub-ordinate legislations impugned herein are however, unprecedented, in the sense that never before has religion been specifically identified in the citizenship law as the ground for distinguishing between citizens and non-citizens. It has introduced religion as a new principle into the citizenship law and can be conveniently branded as “communally motivated humanitarianism", the petition says.

“The illegal immigrants who are to be granted the benefit of this legislation are to qualify for citizenship only on the basis of religion; a requirement that goes against one of the basic tenets of the Indian Constitution, secularism,” it says.

"The scheme of the Constitution of India does not anywhere provide for giving shelter to any illegal immigrant who have stealthily sneaked in through the border and settled down in the territory of India. As a matter of fact no where in the world would one find any legal provision which seeks to shelter foreigners who have illegally entered that country", the petition contends.

"The only exception is perhaps Israel which is a “Jewish State” and offers the “right to return” to Jews from anywhere in the world", it adds.

"It, therefore, demands striking down of the impugned provisions, and also the constitution of a National Immigration Policy and a National Refugee Policy", the petition says.

The PIL comes at the backdrop of Modi government's strong opposition to stay of Rohingya Muslim refugees in India. Albeit the fact that the Rohingya Muslim refugees given shelter in India and other countries are protected by the United Nations, Modi government deported some of them to Myanmar. The deporation had invited the ire of the International body.

“The Indian Government has an international legal obligation to fully acknowledge the institutionalized discrimination, persecution, hate and gross human rights violations these people have faced in their country of origin and provide them the necessary protection", E. Tendayi Achiume, a U.N. human rights expert, said in a statement adding that forcing Rohingya people to return to Myanmar could constitute refoulement, a crime under international law.

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