Legislation For Refugees:
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) recently held a discussion on “protection of the basic human rights of refugees and asylum seekers in India”.
- Many participants raised the issue of India not having a specific law for refugees and asylum-seekers.
- The discussion noted that, though India has not signed the United Nations Refugee Convention, 1951, the refugees and asylum seekers are entitled to the rights in Articles 14 (Right to Equality ), 20 (Protection with Respect to Conviction of Offenes) and 21 (Right to Life) of the Constitution.
- India lacks specific legislation to address the problem of refugees, in spite of their increasing inflow.
- India is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, the key legal documents pertaining to refugee protection.
- Moreover, the Foreigners Act, 1946, fails to address the peculiar problems faced by refugees as a class.
- It also gives unbridled power to the Central government to deport any foreign citizen.
- In spite of not being a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, India has had a stellar record on the issue of refugee protection.
- India has a moral tradition for assimilating foreign people and culture.
- Further, the constitution of India also respects the life, liberty, and dignity of human beings.
- The Supreme Court in the National Human Rights Commission vs. State of Arunachal Pradesh (1996) held that “while all rights are available to citizens, persons including foreign citizens are entitled to the right to equality and the right to life, among others.”
- Further, Article 21 of the Constitution encompasses the right of non-refoulement.
- Non-refoulement is the principle under international law which states that a person fleeing persecution from his own country should not be forced to return to his own country.