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SC Questions Logic Of Separating Families Of ‘Foreigners’ Detained In Assam Jails [Read Order]

“In our opinion, separating the families does not serve any purpose at all. On the contrary, it is detrimental to family life.”

The Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Madan B. Lokur on Wednesday questioned the logic of separating family members of the declared foreign nationals in detention centres.

Taking note of the submissions made by Amicus Curiae Advocate Gaurav Agrawal in Re-Inhuman Conditions In 1382 Prisons, the bench, also comprising Justice Deepak Gupta, observed: “It appears that if a child is below six years of age, then he is kept with the mother. If the child is above six years of age and if the child is female, then she is kept with the mother but if the child is male, he is kept with the father. In our opinion, separating the families does not serve any purpose at all. On the contrary, it is detrimental to family life.”

In response to this, the state responded that necessary arrangements can be made to accommodate the family members of declared foreign nationals/detenues in the same jail subject to available accommodation.

The bench also noted the submission by Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that the Centre had required all the State Governments for setting up of detention centres/holding centres/camps for restricting the movement of illegal immigrants/foreign nationals awaiting deportation/repatriation after completion of sentence due to non-confirmation of nationality.

“We are not at all surprised that not a single State has set up detention centre/holding centre/camp. Unfortunately, this includes the State of Assam also which has a very large number of illegal immigrants/foreign nationals. Be that as it may, we expect the State of Assam, particularly to expedite the construction of detention centre since the amount of Rs.46.51 crores has been sanctioned by the Union of India,” the bench said.

The Court also directed the Central Government to prepare the ‘manual for detention centres’ should be prepared at the earliest.

The bench also noted another issue raised by the Amicus that firewood is being used for cooking for as many as 400 people at a time. “There is absolutely no reason why gas cylinders cannot be provided for cooking purpose. The State of Assam should look into it,” the bench added.

The bench also asked the Additional Solicitor General to explore the possibility of converting the earlier jail premises in Guwahati into a detention centre.

Posting the matter on 20th September, the bench observed: “We expect the State of Assam to act with some degree of promptitude in this regard since it pertains to Article 21 of the Constitution which is applicable to everybody – citizen and non-citizen.”

Read the Order Here

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