The Supreme Court has said that foreigners lodged in detention centres for more than two years will be released in view of the Coronavirus spread.
A three-judge Supreme Court of India has ordered modification of its May 10, 2019 order stating that foreigners lodged in detention centres for more than two years will be released.
Government of Assam andGovernment of India did try to stop the Apex Court from issuing an order torelease them but lawyers from the human right bloc smartly moved and extracteda favourable order which will literally free 60% of foreigners detained in sixdetention centre of Assam.
The earlier order has ordered forforeigners who had served more than three years to be released on bail afterproduction of two sureties worth a lakh each and a bond.
However, in the new order, the Court has reduced the condition now to two sureties worth five thousand each. Assam has at this moment around 1000 odd Bangladeshis in the detention centre awaiting deportation. With this new order, almost 60% of them would qualify to be free.
The CJI SA Bobde along with Justices L Nageshwara Rao and Mohan M Shantanagoudar was hearing a suo motu petition regarding overcrowding of prisons during the COVID19 pandemic.
Senior lawyer, Salman Khurshidhad submitted before the court as to whether the Supreme Court's order ondecongestion of prisons will apply to detention centres in Assam.
However, the advocate appearing for Assam through video conferencing maintained that "the people in the centres have been convicted and held guilty of illegally entering. They are not eligible for release".
Attorney General KK Venugopalalso submitted that if an infected person is released then they would infectothers too.
However, senior lawyer Colin Gonsalvesappearing for National Forum For Prison Reforms stated that the releasedpersons would be checked for any symptoms.
"The health authorities arekeeping an eye on them. There is no issue of transportation, no problem atall," said Gonsalves.
However, to this the CJI had asked: "If transportation is done, then can we maintain the social distancing?" Senior lawyer Salman Khurshid too submitted that detenues can be checked before release.
On the issue of release fromprisons, AG maintained that such a release during lockdown was not feasible.
However, CJI stated that such apprehension about a positive inmate infecting others upon release was "hypothetical." CJI Bobe had also questioned as how will the state look after a possibility of disappearance by foreigners once they are released.
To this Colin Gonsalves said,"They are not foreigners in real sense. Living here for five decades butthey don't have papers to show".