India's Supreme Court has postponed a decision on whether the government can evict about 40,000 Rohingya Muslims who have taken refuge in the country, an attorney said Friday.
Attorney Prashant Bhushan said the court had been expected to issue its ruling Friday, but delayed the decision until Nov. 21, saying it wants more time to hear a petition on behalf of his clients, two Rohingya challenging the government's deportation plans. The petition argues that deportation would violate their human rights.
An estimated 40,000 Rohingya Muslims have settled in various Indian cities, including many who fled persecution in Myanmar in 2012. The government has said some are extremists who pose a threat to India's security.
In a new wave of migration, more than 500,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh since a renewed military crackdown began Aug. 25.
The Supreme Court said the Rohingya Muslims' possible eviction was a very important matter involving issues of national security as well as the human rights of the people, many of whom are women, children and old people. "Therefore, the court will need to hear this matter at length," the Press Trust of India news agency reported.
The Rohingya approached the Supreme Court after India's junior home affairs minister, Kiren Rijiju, told Parliament in August that state governments had been asked to identify and deport people who entered the country illegally, including Rohingya.
Rijiju said India would deport all Rohingya refugees, including some 16,500 who have been registered by the U.N. refugee agency as refugees.