SC orders conditional release of Bangladeshi detainees

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In the middle of a huge political row over the NRC and illegal immigration, the Supreme Court today imposed few for the release of foreigners living in detention centres in Assam.

  1. The detainees will have to deposit surety of Rs 2 lakh each for two Indians before being released with radio collaring.
  2. The detainees will have to mention about their future address before being released from the camps.
  3. The detainees will have to visit nearest police station once in a week.
  4. Biometric ID to be created for the detainees.
  5. If a detainee changes his/her address, then he will have to inform in this regard.
  6. Border Police will have to submit the report of releasee before foreigners’ tribunal.

Assam and Central Government suggested a slew of high tech mass tracking technology including radio collaring to keep latch on the released foreigners.

Noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who was appointed Amicus curie by the court after throwing out original petitioner Harsh Mander,  today strongly argued for the release of the detainees using some kind of mechanism to keep them in a latch.

On the other hand Assam Government also filed an affidavit in a sealed cover in this regard, saying that radio collaring (read microchip), bio metrics , retina or any other improved mechanism available for mass tracking be used before releasing them.

However, the affidavit also said that the detainees had to stay a stipulated number of years inside the detention camp and then surety of Rs 2 lakh each for two Indians before being released with radio collaring.

The Supreme Court on Thursday said that foreigners who could not be deported to their parent country could not be held forever in Assam’s detention centres and that it was not averse to ordering their release provided there was a way to ensure that they will be available whenever needed by the authorities.

“We have no problem issuing orders for releasing them. The only question is how can we ensure their presence when required,” a bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Jain observed.

The Chief Justice asked advocate Prashant Bhushan, whom it had appointed as amicus curiae, and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to suggest how this could be ensured.

Mr. Bhushan referred to an affidavit filed by the state which suggested making the detenues wear radio collar and the solicitor general pointed out that radio collar was one of the options being considered. Mr Prashant Bhushan suggested that a cut-off period of six months could be set for deportation, failing which a foreigner could be released on fulfilling the conditions.

The court was hearing a PIL highlighting the plight of foreigners in the state’s detention centres. The plea was originally filed by activist Harsh Mander. During a hearing on May 2, the court removed Mander as the petitioner after he sought the recusal of the CJI alleging bias, and replaced him with the Supreme Court Legal Services Authority as the petitioner.

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