Updated on 4 May 2021, 4:41 pm
Manipur High Court (PHOTO: IFP)
The Manipur High Court on Monday directed the state and Central governments to ensure safe passage for seven Myanmar nationals to New Delhi, so that they could avail suitable protection under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The seven Myanmar nationals include three journalists of Mizzima and their family members, including three minors.
A division bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kumar and Justice Lanusungkum Jamir passed the judgment in response to a petition filed by a human rights advocate Nandita Haksar.
"The state and Central governments shall facilitate their travel to New Delhi and shall not cause any obstruction. The petitioner/party-in-person states that she will make the required arrangements for purchase of their air-tickets and would arrange for their stay at New Delhi, pending consideration of their claims for ‘refugee’ status by the UNHCR. This assurance is taken on record," the judgment order mentioned.
"The seven Myanmarese individuals in question are not ‘migrants’, as normally understood, but are ‘asylum seekers’. They did not enter our country with a clear-cut and deliberate intention of breaking and violating our domestic laws. They fled the country of their origin under imminent threat to their lives and liberty. They aspire for relief under international conventions that were put in place to offer protection and rehabilitation to refugees or asylum seekers. In such a situation, insisting that they first answer for admitted violations of our domestic laws, as a condition precedent for seeking ‘refugee’ status, would be palpably inhuman," the order stated.
It also directed that the petitioner or the party-in-person shall ensure that these seven persons approach the officer-in-charge of the Parliament Street police station or the jurisdictional police station at New Delhi to register their names, local addresses and whereabouts, pending consideration of their claims.
The petition mentioned that the seven Myanmar nationals fled their country during February, fearing persecution and physical danger after the coup and the violence that broke out thereafter, and they entered India and took shelter at Moreh. They sought the help of the petitioner as they feared that they would be sent back to Myanmar by the Assam Rifles as they had come without proper travel documents.
Earlier, as an interim relief, the division bench had directed the state government to make arrangements to provide transport and safe passage for seven Myanmar nationals, who are taking refuge at Moreh, to Imphal.
Pursuant to the court's order, they were brought to Imphal and are presently stationed at the local residence of the petitioner.