The refugees of Oz

Jun 16, 2013, 09:04 IST | Agencies

Indian inter-caste couple wins right to stay in Australia

A married Indian couple has won the right to stay in Australia, for now, after seeking refugee status claiming they might be killed if they returned to India as they are from different castes. A court in Canberra ruled in favour of the couple who hail from Punjab after their plea for refugee status was rejected by Australian immigration and refugee authorities.

However, there is still a chance of them getting deported, as the authorities have appealed against the ruling in a higher court. The couple, Sikh and from a backward Hindu caste, secretly married in 2007 and lived separately in India after the man’s parents refused to accept the marriage. In 2008, the couple fled to Australia and applied for a protection visa to Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship but was turned down.

They then raised their issue before the Refugee Review Tribunal. The tribunal turned down their request saying they could relocate to any large city in India like New Delhi or Mumbai. However, the man said his family had “political and police connections” and they could easily be tracked down if they stayed in India. The Federal Circuit Court in Canberra finally ruled in their favour, saying the tribunal had failed to comply with Australia’s Migration Act.

“(The tribunal) denied the applicants the opportunity to be apprised of information upon which the tribunal plainly intended to, and did in fact, rely in affirming the decision under review,” federal magistrate Warwick Neville said in his ruling, adding that the tribunal failed to meet the “objects” of the Migration Act. “The failure to comply with the terms of ... the (Migration) act ... in my view, constituted jurisdictional error,” he stated.

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