NEW DELHI, April 25 - The Supreme Court on Thursday pulled up Assam Chief Secretary Alok Kumar for submitting that the government proposed to release all detained foreigners, who have undergone over five years of detention, after capturing their biometrics and other details.
A bench of the top court headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi came down heavily on the State Chief Secretary for submitting an affidavit proposing to release detained foreigners after five years with a bond and biometrics.
The Supreme Court was hearing the Harsh Mander’s case relating to unlawful detention of foreigners and the condition of the detention centres. The State government had proposed to release the women and aged who have completed five years of detention.
The Chief Secretary’s affidavit stated that the foreigners who have completed five years in detention centres would be released after they furnish a security of Rs 5 lakh, and then submit documents to verify their address. The Assam government would also prepare their biometrics database, it said.
The Chief Secretary also informed the apex court that these foreigners have illegally registered themselves in the voters’ list.
The Supreme Court observed that the Government of Assam should deport these foreigners as soon as possible. “But we don’t see that effort from the State government,” the court said.
The Supreme Court, however, was furious over contents of the affidavit filed by the Assam Chief Secretary. “You are asking the Supreme Court to be a part of an illegal order where a foreigner who has no right to stay in the country will remain and sign a bond and so on,” the bench said.
“This man doesn’t know what he is doing. He is signing on dotted lines... Mr Chief Secretary, you are in serious trouble. We are going to issue a notice to you for making slanderous statements against the Law,” the court said.
“Your Chief Secretary has no right to hold the post. You have no right to hold the post because you made an unconstitutional and unlawful submission,” warned CJI Gogoi.
“How do you expect the Supreme Court to be a party to an order allowing those who have no right to remain in India to be allowed to do so on... Your government has not succeeded in following the Constitution and you expect the Supreme Court to be a party to it. You are asking the Supreme Court to be a party to an illegal order. We will order departmental proceedings against you right now. You have no right to continue in office,” the court said.
The State Chief Secretary then apologised to the court.
“Your affidavit has violated the Constitution,” the Supreme Court remarked, asking which provision of the Constitution has given the power to release foreigners.
Amicus Gaurab Banerjee informed the court that a collaborative mechanism needs to be developed with assistance of the country of origin of these foreigners, and that detainees, too, should cooperate. The court observed it is apparent that the government failed in its job.
The CJI queried the Chief Secretary about the nature of assistance offered by the government in collaboration with the state of Assam. The amicus submitted a copy of minutes of the meeting held on March 25 to the court.
Earlier, the Supreme Court asked Alok Kumar whether the State government consulted the Centre before filing the affidavit. When the Chief Secretary replied in affirmative, the bench wanted to see the minutes of the meetings, which Alok Kumar could not produce.
The CJI then directed the State government and the Centre’s counsel to produce Joint Secretary (Border management) before the court within an hour. However, the Attorney General informed the court that the Joint Secretary (Border management) was busy in a meeting and hence could not come to the court.
Meanwhile, Prasant Bhusan also submitted an affidavit mentioning that the condition of the detention centres was in bad shape. But the court remarked that it is aware about it. Bhusan also submitted a petition filed by a detainee. The court, however, did not issue any order till the time of the filing of this report.
The Assam government will file a fresh affidavit in the Supreme Court regarding the detention centres, legal adviser to the Chief Minister, Santanu Bharali told newsman here this evening.