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'Release Declared Foreigners in Detention Camps for More Than 2 Years,' Says Gauhati HC

Those in Assam's six detention camps can now be released on bail.

New Delhi: The Gauhati high court has asked the Assam Police to ensure that ‘declared foreigners’ lodged at the state’s six detention camps be released on bail if they have completed more than two years of stay in custody. 

The high court directive on April 16 was in response to a Supreme Court order on April 13, which in turn was in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking their immediate release due to the fear of the spread of the coronavirus.

Assam, so far, has reported 35 COVID-19 positive patients. Of them, five have reportedly recovered and one has passed away.

On April 13, the three-member bench led by the Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde had modified the Supreme Court’s 2019 order which had allowed such people to leave the camps on bail only if they had competed three years in detention, and on furnishing two personal bonds worth Rs one lakh each. They would also have to present themselves at the local police station every week.

So far, 27 such persons have reportedly availed themselves of the earlier order of the apex court to get out of detention.

The April 13 order has reduced the duration of detention of such persons to two years while keeping intact the rest of the conditions, including storing of the biometrics of their irises, and taking finger prints among other personal details before release.

Also read: SC Allows Conditional Release of ‘Declared Foreigners’ Detained for More Than 2 Years

According to news reports from Guwahati, the high court has asked the superintendents of police, who also serve as the district heads of the state’s border police that issues summons to suspected ‘foreigners’ in the state, to submit a quarterly report to the concerned Foreigners Tribunals regarding the appearance of the detainees.

“The court has also sought a compliance (report) of (on) several conditions including declaration of verifiable address of stay after release, capturing and storing of biometrics of the iris ob both eyes and all ten finger prints and photos in a secured database before release from the detention centre concerned,” said a report in the Economic Times.    

As per the latest Ministry of Home Affairs data, there are 802 detainees in the state’s six camps lodged inside the district jails of Tezpur, Kokrajhar, Goalpara, Jorhat, Dibrugarh and Silchar.