The refugee crisis has become a topic of discussion all around the world. In recent times India has come to the light with the controversy relating to the Rohingya crisis. In this backdrop the Madras High Court has passed a landmark judgment with regards to the asylum seekers. The petition was filed by 65 Indian-origin Tamil refugees, who had fled to India in 1983 from Sri Lanka after ethnic strife against Tamils intensified in the island nation. Since then they have been staying in a refugee camp in Trichy. They were called the illegal migrants.
The Madras High Court directed the Centre to grant them citizenship irrespective of their status as 'illegal migrants' as per strict application of Citizenship Act.The petitioners were the descendants of indentured labourers who were sent to Sri Lankan tea estates during colonial times, and their forefathers hailed from the present day Tamil Nadu, which makes them genealogically from India and they have blood relatives in India.As per Section 5(1) of the Citizenship Act, an illegal migrant has no right to seek Indian citizenship. Since the petitioners had entered India without valid passport or travel documents, they are illegal migrants as per the definition under Section 2(1)(b) of the Act. However, it was observed that, the instant case was different, as they are rooted to India and have made clear their intention to make India their permanent home. However, the Bench stated that the petitioners invoked Article 21 applies to all persons, citizens and non citizens alike. It would apply to refugees and asylum seekers. And most certainly to the petitioners who are genealogically rooted to this soil and who speak our language and who belong to our culture.It observed that keeping the petitioners in stateless state resulted in violation of right to life under Article 21.
Lastly, it was made very clear that,undertaking given before the Madras High Court that the applicants will not be sent back should also be factored in the process of consideration.