Millennium Post

Detention of foreigners: SC directs Assam chief secy to appear before it on Apr 8

New Delhi: Expressing unhappiness over inaction in the case relating to detention of foreigners in Assam, the Supreme Court Monday directed the state's Chief Secretary to appear before it on April 8.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi termed the affidavit filed by the Assam government as "exercise in futility" and sought to know as to how many persons declared foreigners by the tribunal have amalgamated with the local population.

"What is the number of declared foreigners who have amalgamated with the local population. This is why we wanted your Chief Secretary to remain present," the bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, said while expressing displeasure over the absence of officials.

The apex court then directed the Chief Secretary to appear before it and posted the PIL filed by activist Harsh Mander on the issue for next Monday.

The bench was hearing a plea on the condition of detention centres in Assam and the prolonged detention of foreigners there.

The court has expressed concern earlier as well over thousands of illegal migrants being kept in detention centres for years in Assam without being repatriated or deported to their countries of origin.

It had raised several issues connected with the such centres and said the detainees could not be held for an indefinite period.

On January 28, the apex court had asked the Centre and the state to provide details of the functional centres in Assam and foreigners detained in them during the last 10 years.

On March 13, it had asked the state government to file a detailed affidavit in the matter. It pulled up the Centre and the Assam government over the functioning of foreigners tribunals and the problem of "external aggression" faced by the state due to influx of illegal migrants.

"It has become a joke now. The situation has gone too far," the top court had observed and told the Assam government that it was not been able to deport the illegal migrants to the country of their origin.

"You have not done anything. The foreigners tribunals have identified 56,697 persons as foreigners and yet only around 900 persons are in detention centres," the bench had said.

Not satisfied with the replies of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Assam government, the bench had said it would summon the chief secretary and the home secretary of the state to explain the situation.

"We are not even told who are the foreigners or who were detected or suspected to be foreigners. Who are the presiding officers in the foreigners tribunals and how many foreigners tribunals are functioning properly in the state," the bench had asked.

Mehta had said that 150 people who have come to India on valid documents need to be deported while 823 people who are mostly illegal immigrants are detained in six detention centres of the state.

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