Raising questions on the prolonged detention of illegal immigrants at detention centres across Assam, the Supreme Court Tuesday gave the Centre and state government two weeks’ time to discuss steps that could be taken to deal with the issue.
A bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices L Nagesw-ara Rao and Sanjiv Khanna, which was hearing a PIL by ex-bureaucrat Harsh Mander on the condition of detention centres, raised questions on the prolonged detention of illegal immigrants, observing that they should not lose their human rights.
“We will work out a system,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the state, told the bench.
Referring to data submitted by the state government, the CJI said that out of 40 lakh illegal immigrants in Assam, foreigner tribunals had detected only about 52,000, of which only 166 had been deported over the last decade. “How can you expect people to have faith in your government,” CJI Gogoi asked.
The bench said it’s attention would be required to focus on “the living conditions in detention centres and justification of the long detention of persons identified to be foreigners or convicted under the Foreigners Act, 1946 pending deportation”.
Seeking two weeks’ time, Mehta told the court that for a satisfactory answer “it will be necessary to have a joint meeting between the Ministry of External Affairs, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the State of Assam”.