The Australian government's attempt to return 153 asylum seekers to Sri Lanka has been blocked by the high court.
The move comes after Australia confirmed on Monday it had returned 41 people to Sri Lanka after screening their asylum claims at sea on Sunday.
Politicians and rights campaigners say the asylum seekers, who include Tamils, could face persecution back home.
Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott has promised to get tough with refugees.
The interim injunction will prevent the Australian government from returning the 153 asylum seekers until Tuesday afternoon, when the matter is set to be heard in the high court, ABC News reports.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison acknowledged on Monday that a boat-load of 41 people had been handed back to Sri Lanka, while not commenting on the fate of a second boat reportedly carrying about 150 people.
He said they were transferred at sea just outside the Sri Lankan port of Batticaloa on Sunday. "All persons intercepted and returned were subjected to an enhanced screening process," he said.
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