International Refugees in India

The lack of specific refugee legislation in India has led the government to adopt an ad-hoc approach to different refugee influxes. The status of refugees in India is governed mainly by political and administrative decisions rather than any codified model of conduct. The ad hoc nature of the Government’s approach has led to varying treatment of different refugee groups. Some groups are granted a full range of benefits including legal residence and the ability to be legally employed, whilst others are criminalized and denied access to basic social resources.

The legal status of refugees in India is governed mainly by the Foreigners Act 1946 and the Citizenship Act 1955. These Acts do not distinguish refugees fleeing persecution from other foreigners; they apply to all non-citizens equally. Under the Acts it is a criminal offence to be without valid travel or residence documents. These provisions render refugees liable to deportation and detention.

In addition to these groups India also hosts small numbers of refugees from Sudan, Iraq, Iran Ethiopia and Eritrea amongst others.