New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday slammed the Assam government for its “lackadaisical approach” in detecting and deporting the over 50,000 foreigners whose presence in the state was once described, by the top court, as “external aggression”.
Noting that the Assam government had identified just 900 foreigners staying in the state without authorisation, the bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjiv Khanna sought information on the number of foreigners present in Assam, the number of them detected and deported, the number of foreign tribunals and whether they are adequate and the precise number of additional tribunals required immediately or in the near future.
The hearing saw the court displeased with the Assam government’s response to two questions on which it had sought information in the previous hearing of the matter on February 19.
The court had then flagged that the deportation process presently being followed and the erstwhile process involving “pushback” would require a detailed consideration along with the fact as to whether there could be an alternative to housing the declared foreigners in a detention centre, and whether such detention should be the last option.
The court on Wednesday expressed its disapproval over the way the Assam government was dealing with the issue of detection and deportation of foreigners in the course of the hearing of a PIL by a former bureaucrat-turned-activist Harsh Mander, drawing the court’s attention towards the plight of inmates in detention camps.
At one stage during the hearing, the court sought the presence of state Chief Secretary and Home Secretary on Thursday but relented only after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that he would interact with the officials and come back with their responses.
Taking a dig at the Assam government for housing the detected foreigners at the nine detention camps located in district jails, the court, in a satirical reference to the “five-star” centre that is being set up to lodge them in future, said that today about 900 detected foreigners lodged in nine detention centres and it wondered what would the situation be if their number goes up to 9,000 or more.
The next hearing of the matter is on March 27.