Give Consular Access to 157, India Tells Australia

Published: 23rd July 2014 08:39 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd July 2014 08:39 AM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI: India has sought consular access from Australia to the 157 asylum seekers, who are at the centre of a legal challenge and media outrage Down Under, to identify and verify if any of them are Indians.

This was conveyed by India during the meeting of visiting Australian immigration minister Scott Morrison with Home Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday.

“The Indian side sought consular access and emphasised the importance of handling such cases in a legal and humanitarian manner, ensuring that no harm befalls upon anyone, especially minor children,” said an MHA press release about the meeting in Parliament House.

The Australian government had planned the visit at short notice after facing heavy criticism about the treatment of 157 people aboard a boat, who reportedly left from a Sri Lankan Tamil refugee camp in Puducherry. Apparently, the decision for the meeting was taken within two days.

“The Union Home Minister stated that India, as a matter of policy, does not support any kind of illegal migration either into its own territory or illegal migration of its citizens to foreign territories,” added the press release.

According to sources, India has asked for consular access so that it can verify the nationality of the asylum seekers. If they are Indians, there are no legal issues in New Delhi accepting them back once they are deported by Australia.

Most Australian media reports claimed that the asylum seekers were largely Sri Lankan Tamils, which means India will naturally not accept them, while Australia, with its tough-as-nails immigration policy of Tony Abott administration, cannot be seen encouraging asylum seekers.

Australia had intercepted the boat in June and detained them at an unknown location at sea. Amid media outcry over the treatment of asylum seekers, the 157 people are the centre of a legal challenge to stop them from being deported.

Stay up to date on all the latest Nation news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp