The lawyer representing 157 Tamil asylum seekers moved overnight on Friday to Nauru says a High Court case challenging the Australian government's actions in detaining them on the high seas would continue.
Three planes carrying the asylum seekers, including 50 children, from the Curtin detention centre had landed at Nauru's tiny airport, Nauruan officials said on Saturday.
Lawyer George Newhouse, who was not informed by the government that his clients had been taken from Australia, rejected allegations by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison that their refusal to meet with Indian officials was prompted by his advice.
"The allegation is false," said Mr Newhouse. "We have always stood ready to work cooperatively."
Mr Newhouse produced letters he had written to the Indian High Commission and the federal government seeking to consult with the Indian government's lawyers on July 27.
Mr Morrison said in a statement: "It is very disappointing that after having had access to their legal representatives on July 29, all 157 IMAs coincidentally chose not to talk to Indian consular officials."
The Australian government had created a "rare opportunity" for the asylum seekers to return to India to be with their family and friends rather than go to Nauru, he said.
"If these decisions were taken on the advice of lawyers, then not only have the passengers on this voyage been duped by people smugglers, it would seem they have also been let down by those who are supposed to be looking after their best interests," Mr Morrison said.
The asylum seekers will be resettled on Nauru if they are found to be refugees and wouldn't be able to return to India, he said.
Mr Newhouse said: "The court case is on foot. We would expect the government to continue to provide access to our clients."
“The secret overnight transfer is a deliberate move to prevent legal scrutiny. It highlights the Government’s deception, secrecy and willingness to undermine the rule of law in Australia,” said another lawyer, Hugh de Kretser, the Executive Director of the Human Rights Law Centre.
Mr de Kretser said he had only been allowed to speak to four of the 157 asylum seekers this week by telephone.
At 4.30pm on Friday two clients had asked him to examine legal options to prevent a transfer to Nauru or Manus Island
“This move will compound the trauma experienced by our clients. They have just spent a month in detention on the high seas locked in windowless rooms for at least 21 hours a day," he said.
Mr Newhouse said some of the asylum seekers had only been in India a few months after fleeing Sri Lanka, and didn't have established ties in India.
The Nauruan government's information office was yet to be informed of the new arrivals, which include 50 children.
However airport staff confirmed an Australian Skytrader plane, contracted by the Australian government to ferry asylum seekers to Nauru, remained on the ground, with two other Australian planes having departed earlier in the day.