The Supreme Court issued notice in a habeas corpus plea filed by the daughter and son of a 62-year-old man who is a Pakistan national and has been held in a detention centre for deportation for the last seven years after he had spent 3 years and 6 months in jail as punishment under Section 14 of the Foreigner’s Act.
The bench of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant stated, “The petitioner has completed his sentence of 3 years and 6 months imprisonment, following his conviction for the offence under the Foreigner’s Act. The petitioner has been in the detention centre awaiting deportation since February 7, 2015. According to the petitioner, the Pakistan government is not willing to accept him. The petitioner has 5 children who are born in India. The petitioner seeks to apply for Indian citizenship in terms of an earlier order passed by the High Court but is unable to process the formalities due to the detention centre for nearly 7 years. Liberty to inform the Central Agency. Order dasti.”
Senior Advocate Sanjay Parekh appeared for the petitioners. According to the plea, Pakistan authorities had already refused to acknowledge the detenue as a Pakistan national. The man, Mohd. Qamar @ Mohd. Kamil, was sentenced to imprisonment for 3 years and 6 months and a fine of Rs 500 by Chief Judicial Magistrate, Meerut, Uttar Pradesh in 2014. After completing the sentence, he was sent to Detention Centre for the purpose of deporting him to Pakistan. He is lodged in the said Detention Centre for about 7 years as the Pakistani authority has refused to acknowledge him as a Pakistan national.
The petitioner said her father Mohd. Qamar @ Mohd. Kamil was born in India in 1959. He had gone with his mother from India to Pakistan as a child of around 7-8 years in 1967-1968 on a visa to meet his relatives. After his mother died, he remained in Pakistan with his relatives and when he attained adulthood, he came to India in 1989-1990. He married the mother of the petitioner, Shehnaaj Begum, an Indian citizen, and five children were born out of the wedlock, including the petitioners. However, there are no documents to prove that the petitioner’s father went to Pakistan with the mother.
He did not renew his visa due to the lack of education and subsequently, got married here. He was doing the job of a labourer on Khairat machines and other menial jobs and continued to reside in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh along with his family. Thus, the wife and the children hold Aadhaar Card by the UIDAI, Government of India.
In 2011, a complaint was made at Khair Nagar, Meerut, UP against Mohd. Qamar, father of the petitioners and was prosecuted under Section 14 of the Foreigner’s Act on the basis of an FIR lodged at P.S. Delhi Gate, Meerut. The principal allegation was that he was residing in India after the expiry of his visa. Therefore, he was convicted.
After completing the sentence, a Habeas Corpus pleas was filed before the Delhi High Court praying for his release and to allow him to stay with his family. He also submitted to apply for Indian citizenship in accordance with law and also make a representation to the respective authorities giving particulars of all the family members who would stand security in case he is released from the Detention Centre. The petitioners did not receive any response to the representation.
The daughter also wrote a representation to National Human Rights Commission praying for a direction to the Central Government and Civil Authority under the Foreigners Act, 1946 to release her father from the Detention Centre and allow him to reside with his family in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, to which the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Special Branch, Delhi filed a response stating that the application is under consideration with the Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi.
Meanwhile, the Covid-19 outbreak started and the petitioners came to know about Suo-Motu, In Re: Contagion of Covid 19 Virus in India, whereby the Court has directed the authorities to release foreigner detainees who have been under detention for two years or more on certain terms as mentioned in the said order on furnishing a bond in the sum of Rs 5,000 with two sureties of the like sum of Indian citizens. The petitioner filed representations to the Secretary (Foreigners) to the Government requesting them to release their father, but there was no satisfactory response.
The matter is further to be heard after two weeks