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* No plans to send Sri Lankan asylum seekers without notice, Australian government tells court
Fri, Jul 18, 2014, 08:31 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

July 18, Melbourne: An Australian court has given government lawyers until Monday (July 21) to file their defence in the case of the 153 Sri Lankan asylum seekers.

The government lawyers have asked till Tuesday to file their case but the Melbourne High Court judge Kenneth Hayne has refused to give more time and ordered them to file the defense by Monday.

A government lawyer has told the court that the Commonwealth has no plans to send the asylum seekers to Sri Lanka without giving a three-day written notice.

The judge has asked both parties to get on with the procedural issues as the people were in custody.

The 153 Sri Lankan asylum seekers, who set sail from Pondicherry, India to seek asylum in Australia are being held by Australian authorities on board an Australian Customs ship after they were intercepted by the authorities in mid sea.

Australia earlier this month handed over 41 Sri Lankan asylum seekers who were heading for their shores, to the Sri Lankan Navy in mid sea.

The move drew heavy criticism from the UN agency for refugees and from human right groups and human rights lawyers obtained a court order preventing the Australian government from immediately returning the 153 asylum seekers to Sri Lanka without a hearing of their claims.

The lawyers for the asylum seekers have also asked the court to order the Australian Government not to return them to Nauru or Papua New Guinea.

The lawyers have told the court that the government had acted illegally when the asylum seekers were intercepted in sea beyond Australia's immigration control.

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