SC Asks Centre To Provide Info On Detention Centres And Foreigners Detained In Assam [Read Order]
Hearing a PIL for the humane treatment of the immigrants held in detention centres in Assam, the Supreme Court on Monday required the state to furnish details of the number of such centres and the number of inmates they house.
The bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also wishes to be informed as to how many of the inmates are declared foreigners and how many have been duly deported.
While ASG Tushar Mehta, for the government of Assam, insisted that the detention in these centres is not merely on the basis of suspicion but only of individuals who are declared as foreigners, Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing petitioner Harsh Mander, advanced that once their sentence has been served, the individuals cannot continue to be detained for the lack of adequate provision for their deportation.
The Court has directed to file an affidavit consisting of the following details within three weeks;
1. The total number of detention centres and the inmates therein;
2. The period for which such inmates have been lodged in the detention centres;
3. Whether all the inmates in the detention centres have been declared foreigners or such inmates include persons whose references are pending before the Foreigners Tribunal;
4. The number of foreigners declared by the Foreigners Tribunal in the last decade; a year-wise break-up of the figure may be given.
5. Out of the declared foreigners, in how many cases repatriation was tried and the result thereof;
The matter is next listed for hearing on February 19.
The State of Assam has a checkered history of grappling with the influx of migrants from other parts of India and neighboring countries, especially erstwhile East Pakistan and now Bangladesh. Confronted with the problem of alleged "illegal" immigrants, the process of updating the National Register of Citizens in accordance with the Assam Accord (August 1985) has been undertaken. This process is being carried out as per the directions of the Apex Court, which is monitoring the process.
Meanwhile, the Government of Assam has been engaged in detaining individuals who are declared as foreigners by Foreigners Tribunals within detention centres, pending their deportation. The Home and Political Department of the Government of Assam, in the document titled "White Paper on Foreigners' Issue" dated October 20, 2012 has justified the detention of such individuals stating that it serves the purpose of ensuring that they "do not perform the act of vanishing".
The petition by Mander, founding member of campaign Aman Biradari for secularism, peace, and justice, now seeks enforcement of fundamental rights under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India, of those people who are being held in such detention centers in the state, and for them to be treated as refugees, pending their repatriation. Such people have been detained either because they have been declared as foreigners by one of the one-hundred Foreigners Tribunals in Assam or after serving out their sentence for illegally entering India, pending deportation.
Read the Order