Sri Lankan refugees will lose privileges if they get involved in criminal cases: Madras HC

Sri Lankan refugees will lose privileges if they get involved in criminal cases: Madras HC

October 10, 2021   11:57 pm

An Indian court has stated that Sri Lankan refugees can either choose to reside in any one of the 107 refugee camps in Tamil Nadu or stay as an ‘out refugee’ elsewhere on their own and report before the local police station. 

However, they will lose these privileges if they get involved in an offence and thereafter, their place of stay could possibly be only in the special camp in Tiruchi until the Tamil Nadu government decides to dislodge them, the Madras High Court has said.

Justices P.N. Prakash and R.N. Manjula made the observations while dismissing a habeas corpus petition against the government’s decision to lodge Premkumar Ratnavadivel at the special camp in Tiruchi after he obtained bail in a criminal case. 

The judges also held that a habeas corpus petition could not be filed againt legal detention orders passed by the government and at most only regular writ petitions could be moved.

They directed the High Court Registry to bring the issue to the notice of the Chief Justice so that appropriate administrative instructions could be issued to entertain such cases only as writ petitions to be heard by single judges of the court and not as habeas corpus petitions which were heard by Division Benches comprising two judges. 

The Bench also gave liberty to the petitioner to approach the government seeking dislodgement from the special camp.

Earlier, Advocate General R. Shunmugasundaram brought it to the notice of the court that the State government pays 1,000 Indian Rupees a month to the head of every family lodged in the 107 refugee camps. It also pays INR 750 a month to every family member above 12 years of age and INR 450 for those below 12 years of age. 

These privileges would not be extended to refugees who choose to stay on their own outside the camps.

However, if the refugees get involved in criminal cases, they would be lodged in a special camp after they obtain bail. Even such foreigners would be paid INR175 per day and permitted to cook their own food by obtaining a gas connection. 

Relatives could also visit them at the special camps and the government provides free medical treatment too at nearest government hospitals. Therefore, such detention could not be termed illegal, the A-G argued.

He said a Joint Review Committee too had been constituted to consider the plea of the inmates of the special camp to dislodge them and allow them to reside elsewhere. Such committee had considered the case of Premkumar Ratnavadivel but decided not to recommend for his dislodgement from the special camp.

Source: The Hindu


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