By Michael Inman
SYDNEY: An Indian couple who applied for refugee status on the grounds they are from different castes and could be killed if they were deported have won the right to stay in Australia.
But the couple, originally from the Punjab region, could still be expelled after the Commonwealth this week appealed the decision to a higher court.
The tale of forbidden love began when the pair, a Sikh and a member of the Hindu backward caste, married secretly in India in 2007 after the man’s parents refused to accept the relationship on religious and caste grounds.
They initially did not disclose the nuptials to their families as they feared they would be forced to separate or even be killed.
The modern day Romeo and Juliet lived separately before fleeing to Australia in 2008.
The couple were refused a protection visa by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
They appealed to the Refugee Review Tribunal, which rejected the appeal, despite accepting that there was a history of honour killings against those who entered inter-caste marriages without family approval in the Punjab region.
The tribunal said the couple could relocate within India to a large city, such as Mumbai or New Delhi, to avoid repercussions.
But the man argued that his family had political and police ties that would see them tracked and murdered if they were returned.
The love-struck couple took the matter to the Federal Circuit Court in Canberra, which found in their favour, ordering the tribunal to review its decision.
In a judgment published this week, Federal Magistrate Warwick Neville found the tribunal had failed to comply with the Migration Act when deciding the matter.
”[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,” Mr Neville wrote.
”Further, failure to provide the information in the circumstances … clearly failed to meet the objects of [the act].
”The failure to comply with the terms of … the act … in my view, constituted jurisdictional error.”
(Courtesy Canberra Times)