The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave the Centre 12 more days to respond to a plea by two Rohingya Muslim immigrants who had challenged its decision to deport refugees of the community to Myanmar. The government, which was supposed to submit its response on Wednesday, now has time till March 19.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the two petitioners, alleged that the government was treating Rohingya refugees differently from other refugees such as those from Sri Lanka, Live Law reported. He said the Centre and Tamil Nadu had reached an understanding that Sri Lankan refugees would “have access to at least education and healthcare, which Rohingya refugees are being denied”.

“Why this discrimination?” Bhushan asked. “The same rules made for Sri Lankan refugees should be available and applicable to the Rohingyas too.”

The bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra resumed hearing the petition in December 2017, two months after it told the government not to deport any Rohingya refugees till further orders.

In August 2017, the government had announced that it was planning to deport all 40,000 Rohingya refugees living in the country. In September, the government told the Supreme Court in an affidavit that the continued illegal immigration of Rohingyas to India had “serious national security ramifications and threats”. It claimed that inputs from security agencies indicated that some of the refugees had links with terror groups in Pakistan.

In the previous hearing on January 31, the government had told the Supreme Court it did not want India to become the world’s refugee capital. Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had said this in response to allegations made by Bhushan that Border Security Force officers were “pushing back” Rohingya refugees using chilli spray and stun grenades.