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CJI Ranjan Gogoi tears into Assam govt move on detenues

The governmen’s proposed measure reflects its failure to deport declared foreigners, he says.

The Supreme Court on Thursday lashed out at the Assam government’s proposal to conditionally release and monitor declared foreigners languishing in its detention centres for over five years, saying the court would not be a party to such a move, which is both illegal and violative of the Constitution.

Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi said the proposed measure reflected the government’s failure to deport declared foreigners.

“You have no right to continue in office after authoring such an affidavit… This court will not be party to such an unheard of arrangement… You have 900 detainees when lakhs of illegal foreigners have already intermingled with the local population. Most of these foreigners are in the voters’ list and are taking part in the political system of this country…,” Chief Justice Gogoi said.

“All you have is 900 people kept in sub-human conditions in your detention centres,” he rebuked Assam Chief Secretary Alok Kumar, who was present in the court.

The affidavit proposed these foreigners’ release subject to their furnishing a security of ₹5 lakh, verification of address and collection of their biometrics.

“Is this how your government functions? Bonds, biometrics and verification of addresses… Your government has no intention, your government has only hubris,” the CJI told Mr. Kumar.

CJI calls for deportation of foreigners at earliest

When Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who is appearing for the State, tried to intervene, the CJI said the court wanted a response from Mr. Kumar as he had authored the affidavit.

“The stand of the Government of India and the State of Assam should be that foreigners detenues should be deported as soon as possible. But we do not see that stand, Mr. Chief Secretary,” the CJI said.

Mr. Kumar repeatedly apologised to the Bench for the affidavit. He said he would come back with other measures.

“What other measures? That you will provide these detainees five-star facilities or you will beg and plead with their countries to take them back?” the CJI asked Mr. Kumar.

Court’s amicus curiae and senior advocate Gaurav Banerjee said the assistance of the native nations of these foreigners was required for deportation, and moreover, the detenues also have to cooperate.

To this, the CJI asked when the Union and the State had had a meeting with the countries concerned.

Mr. Banerjee submitted the minutes of a meeting held on March 25. He said some of the foreigners may also not cooperate with the authorities, which further retarded the move to deport them.

”Do you expect him to cooperate after 40 years of living in this country?” the CJI asked.

Mr. Prashant Bhushan, who appears for activist-petitioner Harsh Mander, sought time to file a response to the State’s affidavit.

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