The Gauhati High Court has criticised the Assam government for operating six detention centres for housing illegal foreigners within jail premises, and directed it to submit an action taken report within 10days regarding hiring of suitable accommodation for the purpose. These jails are in in Dibrugarh, Goalpara, Kokrajhar, Jorhat, Silchar and Tezpur.

It is noted that even the model manual for the detention centres provides that the detention centres shall beset up outside the jail premises. 

The high court cited a 2012 Supreme Court verdict in a case concerning 37 Pakistani prisoners who had completed their sentence but could not be repatriated as their nationality had not been confirmed.

The home ministry said that the maintenance of such detention centres should be entrusted to the Social Welfare Department. It added that if there were no suitable buildings, or if acquiring land and constructing such centres were to take time, the state government could hire buildings for detention centres. The home ministry had also compiled a model manual for detention centres.

The High Court ordered the state government to submit an “action taken” report on steps to set up detention centre outside jail premises. The report is listed for hearing on October 16.

One of the petitions is on behalf of several ailing women who have been declared foreign nationals, while another is on the behalf of a convicted foreign national who has completed his sentence period.

A third petition was filed on behalf of a woman and a man who have not been declared as non-citizens by any of Assam’s 100 Foreigners’ Tribunals or convicted under any law.

The cases are being represented by human rights activist and lawyer Santanu Borthakur and the relatives of the jailed Dipika Sarkar and Nurut Zaman Dewan.
Visuals: Representational

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