Court asks Assam to set up detention centres outside jails for ‘foreigners’

Guwahati, Oct 10 : The Gauhati High Court has asked the Assam government to set up six detention centres outside the jails for housing “declared foreigners”, an official said on Saturday.

The Assam government had set up six detention centres within the existing jail premises in Goalpara, Kokrajhar, Jorhat, Silchar, Dibrugarh and Tezpur and lodged the “declared foreign nationals” pending their deportation or repatriation and whose movements are required to be restricted.

An official of the Border Wing unit of the Assam Police said on Saturday that Gauhati High Court judge Justice Achintya Malla Bujor Barua, after hearing multiple petitions, asked the state government earlier this week to set up the six detention centres outside the existing jails.

The court ordered the government to submit an action taken report on October 16 regarding suitable accommodation for the detainees.

Justice Barua in his 11-page order said that it is discernible that more than 10 years have gone by since a part of the jail premises in Goalpara, Kokrajhar and Silchar had been declared to be detention centres.

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“Certainly, a period of more than 10 years cannot be understood to be a temporary arrangement. Even in respect of Jorhat, Dibrugarh and Tezpur, a period of five years is almost over which again cannot be strictly said to be a temporary arrangement,” the order said.

The high court order said that the Supreme Court had clearly provided that the detainees be kept at an appropriate place with restricted movement pending their deportation and repatriation and the places where they are to be kept may be detention centres or by whatever name such places are called, but they must have the basic facilities of electricity, water and hygiene besides appropriate security.

The HC said that the Union Home Ministry had in March, 2012 asked all the state governments that pending acquisition of land and construction of buildings, the state governments may consider hiring suitable accommodations for the purpose and further in case of non-availability of government buildings, the state governments may look at hiring private buildings.

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The Central government had last year informed the Lok Sabha that there were 1,043 people in detention camps in Assam out of which 1,025 were Bangladeshi citizens and 18 were Myanmar nationals.

Some people were subsequently released from the detention centres following the orders of the Foreigners’ Tribunal, a quasi-judicial institute.

In view of the coronavirus outbreak, the Gauhati High Court had in April asked the Border Wing of the Assam Police to release on bail the “declared foreigners” to comply with the Supreme Court order on who have completed two years in detention camps.

Assam’s Inspector-General of Prisons, Dasarath Das, said that following the high court order, majority of the “declared foreigners” were released from the detention centres on bail and under certain conditions.

–IANS
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