Why does India need a refugee law? : A Critical Study

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Smriti Raturi, Prof. (Dr.) Sachin Rastogi


India is not a signatory to either the Refugee Convention of 1951 or the Refugee Convention Protocol of 1967. These documents provide clarity on the definition of refugees as well as the obligation of host nations to protect those who are at risk of being persecuted. Both of these agreements came into existence as a direct response to the worldwide refugee crisis that started in the year 1951. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is not recognised as having administrative jurisdiction within India's borders since India maintains the attitude that it would handle refugee crises on its own. Only around 46,000 of India's approximately 200,000 refugees receive formal protection from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) headquarters in New Delhi. The remaining refugees either have a status granted by the state or are not registered at all.

India urgently has to re-examine its policy frameworks and its humanitarian duties towards non-citizens in light of the recent economic collapse in Sri Lanka, the food crisis in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the imminent threat presented by growing sea levels in Bangladesh and the Maldives. In light of these events, India must assess its humanitarian obligations. The current research piece makes an effort to perform an in-depth examination of the reasons why India has an immediate need for a domestic legislation in order to deal with the ongoing refugee crisis. This attempt is made in the context of the current study. In addition to this, the article explores the reasons behind India's reluctance to adopt such a regulation, despite the country's image as a "safe haven" for migrants. This is something that the study analyses.


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