International Implication and Asylum with Special Reference to Non-Refoulement in the 1951 Refugee Convention
14 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2019
Date Written: June 2, 2019
The detention, last year of three Burmese nationals who entered Indian territory to escape the military crackdown in their country under the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946, yet again highlights the ad hoc nature of refugee law and practice in India and its failure to define “refugees” as a class of persons and their status, rights and entitlements. In the popular understanding, any person who has left his or her home fearing for life and liberty or due to lack of subsistence is regarded as a refugee. However, international law defines refugees, subject to minor variations across different illegal instruments, as persons who have been forced to flee the country of their origin and are unable or unwilling to return there due to the fear of persecution on account of their race, religion, ethnicity, political beliefs, etc. Refugees form a special class of persons different from other migrants or aliens – legal or illegal who voluntarily leave their home country. India is one of the most prominent refugee receiving countries in the world. According, to available statistics, India hosts around 3,30,000 refugees and its refugee population includes as many as 1,43,000 Sri Lankans, 1,10,000 Tibetans, an estimated 52,000 Chin and other minorities from Burma, 15,000 from Bhutan, about 11,400 from Afghanistan, an unspecified but massive number of Hindus from Bangladesh, a number of Nepalese who fled the Maoist insurgency, and more than 400 from other countries. This paper discusses the basic contours of treatment of refugees under Indian law sieved by the available international instruments and examines the impact of the current ad hoc nature of the legal regime that regulates refugees in India. It discusses India’s normative commitment to refugee protection and the judicial endeavours to broad base them to govern the life of a refugee. Based on this discussion, it seeks to present an argument for adoption of separate legal framework that outlines the legal status of refugees in India.
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