PILs for Rohingyas bid to change India’s demography: Centre to SC

New Delhi: The Centre on Monday questioned the credentials of the PIL petitioners seeking to block deportation of Rohingya refugees saying the genesis of the PILs threaten to change the country’s demography and destabilize it.

“Go into the question which is the genesis of it (PILs). Who wants to change the demography, destabilise and disintegrate the country? Sovereignty of the nation is paramount,” the Centre told Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, urging the top court to allow diplomacy to have its play in dealing with the Rohingya issue.

Pointing to the “interests of the nation” and the steps being taken by the government, Additional Solicitor General Tuishar Mehta told the court that there were “diplomatic solutions” and actions being worked out between India, Bangladesh and Myanmar to address the Rohingya problem.

Resisting the plea by counsel Prashant Bushan to ask the government to “adhere” to what it had said in its affidavit on providing basic amenities including medical and educational facilities to Rohingya refugees, Mehta said there were “interests, counter interests and several interests.”

“Don’t pass an order”, Mehta said, asserting that basic amenities were being provided in the refugee camps. He dared the petitioners to bring facts contradicting the government position.

Mehta said: “We are not pushing back (Rohingyas), but not allowing those who don’t have valid visa.”

As Mehta asked “what interests are being projected”, Bhushan retorted: “Interests of humanity are being projected.”

Taking exception to the Centre raising the issue of destabilization, disintegration and demographic change, senior counsel Ashwini Kumar, appearing for one of the petitioners, said the “bogey of destabilization” was being raised on every plea concerning human rights.

“Sovereignty is not against human rights,” he said.

In a volley of posers, Ashwini Kumar — a former Law Minister in the UPA government — said: “Does India stand up to humanitarian rights? Does India stand for international obligations? Does India stand up to its own philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (world is a family)?”

The court is hearing a batch of petitions seeking to block the deportation of Rohingya refugees and seeking basic amenities for them including access to hospital and admission to their children in schools.

The court directed the next hearing of the matter on April 9.