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Assam NRC case: Supreme Court says may consider releasing illegal foreigners in detention centres subject to conditions

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday said it may consider releasing illegal foreigners detained in Assam detention centres' provided they are available whenever required for legal proceedings.

The top court said it may impose such conditions on the detenues to be released, that they can be traced and made available at the appropriate time before the court or the authorities concerned. It asked the Assam government to work on the modalities of setting up around 1,000 foreigners tribunals for speedy disposal of cases related to illegal immigrants.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna asked advocate Prashant Bhushan, assisting the court as amicus curiae, to inform it by Friday about suitable conditions which could be imposed on the detenues upon their release.

 Assam NRC case: Supreme Court says may consider releasing illegal foreigners in detention centres subject to conditions

File image of the Supreme Court. AP

Bhushan said that upon their release detenues could be asked to report to police station every month and their guarantors could be asked to ensure their presence when necessary. The bench said that if the guarantors fail to ensure the presence of the detenue then what action could be taken besides forfeiting the bond amount furnished by the guarantors. Bhushan said that they can be sent to jail.

The bench then questioned that under what provision they can be sent to jail. "We can't create law by our orders and send them to jail," the bench said and asked Bhushan to apprise it by Friday the appropriate conditions which could be imposed on the detenuees upon release.

The bench told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Assam government to file an affidavit on the availability of a pool of retired judicial officers, bureaucrats and advocates with certain years of experience, who could function as presiding officers in foreigners tribunal.

Mehta informed the court that there are at present 100 foreigners tribunals functioning and consultations are on at the highest level with the Gauhati high court to increase that to 200 to begin with.

He said that they were expecting rise in number of cases with claims of citizenship after the Assam NRC is published on 31 July and therefore more foreigners tribunals will be needed. "You have framed the eligibility criteria in such a manner that no person would like to join. An advocate with seven years of experience and eligible for post of district judge, why would he apply for a tenure post," the bench said.

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Updated Date: May 09, 2019 22:31:00 IST