Turning Back: An Assessment of Non-Refoulement Under Indian Law

Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 39, p. 3257, July 17, 2004

24 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2005

See all articles by Omar N. Chaudhary

Omar N. Chaudhary

Butzel Long; University of Michigan Law School


Some have argued that India's laws uphold fundamental refugee law concepts. Specifically, some Indian legal scholars contend that the right of non-refoulement is alive and well in India even without having signed any related international agreements. The prevention of refoulement (translated roughly as the "turning back" of refugees), which includes both the rejection of refugees at the border as well as the deportation of refugees from inside India, lies at the very heart of refugee protection. Unfortunately, the scholars who identify the right of non-refoulement under Indian law overestimate the amount of legal protection for refugees in India. A sober assessment of Indian law reveals that refugees are not entitled to non-refoulement unless India adopts new legal obligations.

This paper hopes to ensure that any refugee policies pursued by the government of India are based on sound analyses of existing domestic law vis-a-vis international standards. Otherwise, proponents of refugee rights risk the wrath of legislators who feel betrayed by misleading promises from the scholarly community. Their ire could lead to the repeal of any progressive legislation, as well as a hostile attitude toward further human rights initiatives and the academic community at large. New obligations toward refugees need to be embraced in the typical manner, by engaging policy-makers and their constituents on the realities of the situation.

Please note that this version of the article may differ very slightly in content and format from the published piece.

Keywords: India, Indian, refugee, refugees, asylum, refoulement, non-refoulement, deportation, human rights, international law, refugee convention, South Asia, Arunachal Pradesh, Chakma, Chakmas, NHRC

JEL Classification: I31, I39, K33, O19, O53, Z00

Suggested Citation

Chaudhary, Omar N., Turning Back: An Assessment of Non-Refoulement Under Indian Law. Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 39, p. 3257, July 17, 2004, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=668124

Omar N. Chaudhary (Contact Author)

Butzel Long ( email )

United States

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

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