Why are foreigners lodged in Assam’s detention centre for indefinite period, asks SC

The apex court said the problem of illegal migrants in Assam is for last 50 years and asked why no steps were taken to deport or repatriate them.

Published: 20th February 2019 12:45 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th February 2019 11:58 AM   |  A+A-

People check their names on the final draft of Assam's National Register of Citizens after it was released at a NRC Seva Kendra Hatigaon in Guwahati.

People check their names on the final draft of Assam's National Register of Citizens after it was released at a NRC Seva Kendra Hatigaon in Guwahati. (File Photo | PTI)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Stressing that illegal immigrants in Assam should not languish in detention centers for long periods of time and should be deported expeditiously to their country, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to hold consultations with the state government and formulate a scheme to execute the same. 

A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi directed the Centre and the Assam government to come out with a clear stand on various issues by holding joint meetings with competent authorities of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of External Affairs. 

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta is representing the Assam government in the case.

READ HERE | Supreme Court expresses concern over 938 people lodged in six detention centres in Assam

“Don’t you think some explanation is called for from the state government as to why these people have been detained for such a long period? Many of them are in detention for the last 9-10 years. What is the justification?” the bench asked Mehta.

Mehta said there was the need to evolve a mechanism for repatriating them and it should be done expeditiously.

Explaining the nitty-gritty involved in deportation, Mehta said, “Before initiating the process of their deportation, verification to determine their nationality has to be done.”

READ HERE | No info on 'foreigners' deported to Bangladesh returning to Assam: Government

The bench posted the matter to March 13 and asked Mehta to spell out measures that Assam would take in the future.

The Assam government told the bench that 938 people were lodged in six detention centers and 823 of them have been declared foreigners by tribunals. 

The Centre said over 27,000 foreigners have been pushed back at border points while attempting to enter India illegally. The solicitor general said the Centre has allotted Rs 47 crore and Assam has provided land for building a new detention center with various facilities, keeping in mind human rights issues The new center will be ready by August 31.

Posing queries to Mehta, the CJI said it is strange that tribunals had declared only 52,000 people as foreigners while the Centre had deported only 166. He said, “We are concerned how 52,000 illegal immigrants will be deported. You follow the policy of pushing them from one place and they come back through another place.”

‘How will 52,000 illegal immigrants be deported?’

The Centre said 27,000 foreigners had been pushed back at border points while attempting to enter India illegally.

Posing queries to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, the CJI said it was strange that tribunals had declared 52,000 people as foreigners while the Centre had deported only 166.

“We are concerned how 52,000 illegal immigrants will be deported. You push them from one place and they come back through another,” the CJI said.

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