"How Are You Expecting that People Will Have Faith In Your Governance?" Asks CJI

Team SoOLEGAL 20 Feb 2019 11:26am

On Tuesday Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta "40 lakh persons were excluded from the Assam NRC (implying that they are prima facie illegal immigrants), but only 52,000 have been declared as foreigners by the Foreigner Tribunals? How can you expect people to have faith in your governance amidst this chaos?".

 A PIL by activist Harsh Mander was also being heard by the 2 judge bench also comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Sanjeev Khanna, for the humane treatment of the immigrants held in detention centers in Assam.

 There were two primary issues raised in the present writ petition, and the bench observed that judicial attention must be focused only on these two issues, namely, (i) the living conditions in detention centers and (ii) justification of the long detention of persons identified to be foreigners or convicted under the Foreigners Act, 1946 pending deportation.

State of Assam is represented by SG, it was submitted by SG these 40 lakh people will not be regarded as illegal immigrants if they are not included in the NRC. The Chief Justice further added,

"Of these 52,000 declared foreigners, only 166 have been deported? What have you been doing for so many years?... Moreover, what happens when even after their nationality has been confirmed, the concerned state refuses to take them back? The government (of India) sends them back and they keep returning?"

The case from the petitioner’s side was being presented by Advocate Prashant Bhushan, he contended that since 2010 several immigrants have been in detention. Noting that the inmates of these detention centers cannot be deprived of their human rights, the court weighed in that the immigrants be so confined only for the least possible period- "How do you justify holding these people in detention for so many years?... We do not need to refer to an American judgment to know that the duration of detention must be minimal!", remarked the Chief Justice.

The bench wanted that the Centre and the Assam government must engage in a discussion on this behalf. This was confirmed by Mr.Bhushan that the immigrants are brought by the Army personnel in trains to the border, with each coach stuffed full, and then released at the border. Chief Justice Rajan Gogoi commented on this that "As far as we know, the Indo-Bangladesh border is not accessible by train. We would like to know which is the report that claims this?”.  It was clarified by the council that they are carried to the border via road after the train route ends.

When the bench reflected on the atrocious state of these centers, it was stated by the SG that he has personally visited them and found them to be nothing like the prisons. 'They offer facilities for recreation, games, TV etc', he said.

On this Chief Justice said"You must have notified them prior to your visit. So obviously they would be ready in you know how old these buildings are?".

Tagged: immigrants   assam   cji   nrc  
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