Taking a stern view at the lackadaisical approach towards the plight of foreigners in detention camps in Assam by the state government, the apex court on Monday (April 1) directed Chief Secretary to be present in Delhi till court allows him to return to Assam.
The court’s directions came after it found out that Chief Secretary (CS) was not present and it couldn’t seek reply from him.
Slamming the Centre over the non-availability of CS and also not furnishing the details of the total number of detention centres in Assam and the inmates lodged there, the bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta, Sanjiv Khanna said: “You have not given the full information…Where is the chief secretary? Who exempted the chief secretary to appear in the court? He was present on the previous occasion and thereafter he is very busy. We want answers from the chief secretary as to how long will these foreigners languish in detention centers and also their living conditions in these detention centre’s.”
The bench also said: “We want your state to answer what have you done in the last 5 years and how will you track the country of origin of these people. Your figures are not correct and are based on assumptions. Your state is dragging this issue purposefully.”
To which Mehta assured that the chief secretary of the state of Assam shall appear on the next date of hearing and shall not leave without the permission of the court.
On the previous hearing, the bench had directed State of Assam to file an affidavit which should contain information as how many inmates have been declared as foreigners by the tribunals in the last decade.
The bench was acting on a PIL filed by human rights activist and former civil servant Harsh Mander drawing the court’s attention towards the plight of inmates in detention camps in Assam. He has claimed in his petition that keeping people in detention for years was illegal and also in violation of human rights.
—India Legal Bureau