The High Court of Australia has refused to hear the case of four-year-old Tharnicaa Murugappan, the youngest daughter of the Tamil asylum seekers from Biloela, who was seeking to apply for a protection visa to remain in Australia.

Priya and Nades Murugappan and their daughters, Kopika and Tharnicaa, were moved into community detention in Perth in June after over two years in detention in Melbourne and Christmas Island, after Tharnicaa became ill with a serious blood infection.

They were granted bridging visas, but only to three of the Murugappan family members – Priya, Nades and Kopika. This means the parents can work and Kopika can attend school in Perth while youngest daughter Tharnicaa receives medical care.

On Thursday morning, the court refused a special leave request from Tharnicaa’s lawyers to hear the case of her bid to apply for a protection visa.

Her lawyers were set to challenge a law stating she can’t apply for a visa unless the Federal Immigration Minister uses his discretion to allow it. It’s important to note the judgment was NOT a ruling on the Biloela family’s refugee status.

After the High Court’s decision not to hear Tharnicaa’s case, supporters of the family are advocating for Immigration Minister Alex Hawke to use his discretion to clear the way so she can apply for a protection visa.

Hawke, however, has said due to “ongoing legal matters” he won’t comment on today’s decision.

“Today the High Court declined to grant the Sri Lankan family formerly resident on Christmas Island special leave to appeal,” Hawke said in a statement.

“I note the High Court’s decision follows a series of previous decisions by the Department of Home Affairs, Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Federal Circuit Court, Federal Court, Full Federal Court and High Court in relation to the family.

“The family has a number of other ongoing legal matters. It is therefore inappropriate for me to comment further,” he said.

Following the High Court decision, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has spoken in support of the family.

“They live in Biloela and I believe they should go home to Biloela,” she said.

The family, who settled in Biloela before being detained by Immigration, have spent the last couple of years detained on Christmas Island, and were only brought back into Australia after their little Tharnicaa required emergency medical care and was transported to a Perth hospital.

Angela Fredericks, family friend and advocate for the Biloela family, noted the implications of refusing Tharnicaa a bridging visa but giving the rest of the family one.

“While we welcome Priya, Nades, and Kopika being granted bridging visas, we wonder what precisely is the Minister’s objective in denying little Tharni one. This family must stay together, and they need to be back in Biloela as soon as humanly possible,” she said in a statement.

This High Court’s rejection doesn’t spell the end for the Biloela family’s legal battle, with a separate case being heard in the federal court in September.