The Gauhati High Court on Wednesday (October 7) directed the Assam Government to take steps to shift the foreigners detentions centres outside the jail premises.
A single bench of Justice Achintya Malla Bujor Barua passed the direction after noting that a portion of jail premises are notified as centres to detain foreigners/illegal migrants at many places.
In Goalpara, Kokrajhar and Silchar, detention centres are being maintained within jail premises for the past ten years. In Jorhat, Dibrugarh and Tezpur, this arrangement of detention centres within jail premises has been continuing for the past 5 years.
The bench noted that such a practise was against the directions given by the Supreme Court in Gauha and the subsequent guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs in 2014.
As per these directions, the State Governments are required to set up set up sufficient numbers of detention centres/holding centres/camps for restricting the movement of illegal migrants/foreign nationals. Such detention centres are to be set up outside the jail premises.
"From the aforesaid, it is discernible that the detention centres must be outside the jail premises and secondly pending any acquisition of lands and construction of buildings, the State Government may find suitable accommodations for the purpose and if government buildings are not available, the State Government may look for hiring private buildings for the purpose", the Court observed.
The Court said : "It does not require any adjudication that the declaration of a part of the jail premises in the aforesaid places(Goalpara, Kokrajhar, Silchar, Jorhat, Dibrugarh and Tezpur) are not the complete requirement of the provisions in Bhim Singh (supra) and the two aforesaid communications dated 10.09.2014 and 07.03.2012 of the Govt. of India in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Foreigners Division as well as the provision of Clause 4.1 of the model manual for the detention centres".
The Court said that the arrangement continuing in these places for the past 5-10 years cannot be regarded as a temporary measure.
Therefore, the Court directed the government to take steps in accordance with the SC judgment and the MHA guidelines and to file action taken report by October 16.
"We require the authorities in the State Government, Home and Political Affairs to submit an action taken report within the next returnable date on the steps that have been taken to set up detention centre outside the jail premises and if necessary by following the requirement of the two communication dated 07.03.2012 and 10.09.2014 as well as the Clause 4.1 and 4.4 of the model manual which requires that if suitable government accommodations are not available for the purpose, the authorities may also be required to hire any private premises for the purpose".
The direction was passed in the petitions filed by Santhanu Borthakur, Abantee Dutta, Dipika Sarkar raising the issue as to in what manner the detention centers are required to be operated by the authorities for the purpose of keeping the foreigners/illegal migrants and others who are awaiting deportation/repatriation to the countries of their origin or waiting an adjudication of their respective claim.
The Court heard N Dutta, Senior Advocate for the petitioners, RKD Choudhury, Senior Government Pleader and A Gyan for the Union of India.
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