New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Centre to give the number of functional detention centres in Assam and the foreigners detained there during the last 10 years as also various other details. A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna was hearing a petition filed by activist Harsh Mander on the condition of detention centres in Assam and the prolonged detention of foreigners there.
The apex court asked the Centre to provide various details about the detention centres, the period of detention of detainees and the status of their cases before the Foreigners Tribunal. We would like to know as to how many detention centres are there. We also want to know how many persons are lodged there and since when,” the bench said. It also asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to provide details as to how many persons have been declared foreigners so farand how many of them have been deported till date.
It sought the year-wise details of foreigners who have illegally entered into India during the last 10 years. The bench, which has sought details within three weeks from the authority, has now posted the matter for further hearing on February 19. The top court had earlier issued notice to the Centre and the Assam government on Mander’s plea and had asked them to respond to it within four weeks.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Mander has said that the condition of foreign nationals kept at the detention centres in Assam was not good. “The larger issue is can these people be permitted to be detained indefinitely just because they are not Indian citizens,” he said, adding that they were being treated as “illegal aliens”. Bhushan had referred to a US Supreme Court judgement and said it had held that the government cannot keep the foreign nationals in detention indefinitely.
The Centre had in November last year informed the Supreme Court that the process of framing guidelines for keeping foreign nationals in detention centres across the country was “under preparation” and that the work of framing detention manual or guidelines was being taken up “very seriously”. The top court had told the Centre to ensure that requirements of the circulars or guidelines issued by the central government would be adhered to by Assam.