Refugee Law in India

KEYWORDS:- Refugee-The war with Pakistan-Displaced person-

Indian Law Encyclopedia

The 1951 Geneva Convention[ 146 states parties to the 1951 Convention or its 1967 Protocol- India was not a signatory] Relating to the Status of Refugees describes a refugee as any person who, “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country”. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has a mandate to provide international protection to refugees, including promoting the accession to international refugee instruments and other relevant human rights instruments. No central statute refers directly to refugees in India.

The war with Pakistan, the influx of refugees and the unprecedented problems faced by India in December 1971 could be remembered. Maintenance of Internal Security Act, 1971 can be used either to detain or confine a Refugee or to expel them from out of India. Indo Pak war which began on December 3, 1971, there was a continuous influx of refugees (running into several millions) from what was then known as East Pakistan and is now free Republic of Bangla Desh and that on our eastern borders the situation was anything but normal. Indeed, this unprecedented influx of refugees from the very nature of things could not but give rise to colossal problems affecting inter alia the law and order situation and maintenance of security in the State of West Bengal. Between November 23 and December 16, 1971, therefore, the entire Home Department in West Bengal including its Special Section which owed its birth to the urgent need of dealing with the detenus and other allied problems, can legitimately be assumed to have been under considerable stress and strain on account of the vexed problem posed by the indiscriminate influx of refugees with unknown antecedents from across our eastern borders.

 

  • In Louis De Raedt Vs. Union of India, the Supreme Court had ruled that the fundamental rights of the foreigner was confined to Article 21 and did not extend to a foreigner[AIR 1991 SC 1886]
  • National Human Rights Commission Vs. State of Arunachal Pradesh[AIR 1996 SC 1234]

U.P. Land Acquisition (Rehabilitation of refugees) Act, 1948.

 

Punjab Refugees (Registration of Land Claims) Act, 1948.

Displaced person’ means a land holder in the territories now comprised in the province of West Punjab or a person of Punjabi extraction who holds land in the Provinces of North-Western Frontier Province, Sind or Baluchistan or any state adjacent to any of the aforesaid Provinces and acceding to the Dominion of Pakistan and who has since the 1st day of March, 1947, abandoned or been made to abandon his land in the said territories on account of civil disturbances, or the fear of such disturbances, or the partition of the country. section 2 (d) of the East Punjab refugees (Registration of Land Claims) Act, 1948 (East Punjab Act No. XII of 1948) states;

‘Refugee’ means a landholder in the territories now comprised in the Province of West Punjab, or who or whose ancestor migrated as a colonist from the Punjab since 1901 to the Provinces of North-West Frontier Province, Sind or Baluchistan or to any State adjacent to any of the aforesaid Provinces and acceding to the Dominion of Pakistan and who has since the 1st day of March, 1947, abandoned or been made to abandon his land in the said territories on account of civil disturbances, or the fear of such disturbances, or the partition of the country;”