NHRC recommends that 63 Pakistani asylum seekers should not be deported till a proper decision on their request is taken

New Delhi August 27, 2007 The National Human Rights has recommended to the Government of India that 63 Pakistani nationals who had sought asylum, should not be deported to their country till a proper decision on their request for asylum is taken by the government. The Commission has further recommended that these petitioners be treated in a humane manner and proper medical care and other basic amenities be provided to them as long as they are in India.
The Commissions' recommendation comes on a petition which prayed for NHRCs' intervention to save these Pakistani nationals from deportation. The petitioners who had staged a demonstration to seek asylum in India, were sent to Tihar jail for burning their Pakistani passports. They had apprehended that they would be executed under the blasphemy law if they were sent back to their country.
The Commission sought comments from both the MEA and the MHA. The MEA had stated that the petitioners had obtained visa from the Indian High Commission on the basis of fake letters of reference. It also said that the fear of persecution by the petitioners was unfounded. The report from the Ministry was forwarded to the representative of the petitioner.
Ms Nilema Probhoo, the representative, reiterated that repatriation to Pakistan meant a death penalty for the petitioners. She further submitted that the fear of death drove them to obtain Indian visa and the Indian hierarchy had ignored the circumstances under which these 63 people had migrated to India.
The Commission after going through the petitioners' statements said that the grant of asylum is an administrative decision to be taken by the Government of India, where the Commission cannot interfere. The Commission, however, drew the attention of the Indian Government to the observations made by the House of Lords in a similar case. As per these observations, the Secretary of State had the power and the duty to act so as to avoid any breach of a person's right, as soon as a asylum seeker made it clear that their was an imminent prospect that such a violation can occur. Further, the observations said that it should be taken into account whether the asylum seeker was male or female or was elderly or was in poor health, and to the extent to which he or she had explored all the avenues of assistance.
The Commission has expressed the hope that the Government of India while considering the petitioners' request for asylum, will give due regard to the observations made by the House of Lords.