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Assam Detention Camps: Another plea in SC seeking release of those who have served two years behind bars

This plea is second of its kind, after the outbreak of COVID19 in India, the first one had asked for release of all detainees unconditionally

Sabrangindia 08 Apr 2020

Supreme CourtImage Courtesy: telegraphindia.com

A Supreme Court Bench headed by CJI SA Bobade has issued notice in a petition seeking release of those detainees who have completed two years in Assam's detention camps. There are six detention camps in Assam, all housed in district prisons, in which currently there are about 800 inmates. These detention camps house persons who have been “declared foreigner” by a Foreigners Tribunal.

The petitioner, Raju Bala Das, who himself is a detainee himself, has completed 2 years in detention and has appealed to the apex court to consider the issue of over-crowding in these detention centres which should be a matter of concern given the health crisis in the country due to COVID19 pandemic. While people are being advised to practice social distancing to save themselves from being infected by the novel corona virus, detainees are forced to live cheek-by-jowl in these camps. The petition states that the court should take into consideration the unhygienic and crowded living conditions in detention camps especially when there is no chance of the declared foreigners being deported in such times.

This petition comes close at the heels of another representation filed by an organization called “Justice and Liberty Initiative” seeking unconditional release of all the detainees languishing in detention camps. This plea had stated, “being human beings they also have at least the basic right to live and to not die of COVID-91 in the precincts of a prison, which has despicable living conditions”. It pointed out that the detainees are neither criminals, nor a threat to the society.

In May 2019, the Supreme Court had already given an order for release of detainees who have completed three years or more in detention camp. This release was however, conditional on execution of bond with two sureties of Rs. One lakh from Indian citizens and on providing verifiable address after release. After this order was passed, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) was successful in seeking release of eleven such detainees. This includes a family of three, husband, wife and son detained in Tezpur detention camp. Owing to poverty, Jainuddin, Hajira Bibi, and Kamal Ali were unable to file any bail application and CJP fought long and hard to help them get released. Further, two brothers, Samsul Ali and Abdur Rashid were also released from detention after CJP’s Assam team battled legal formalities for four months.

While these detainees have been fortunate enough to be released, there are as many as 802 people still living in detention camps, away from their families. Yesterday, a woman inmate, Robida Begum (60) died of cancer in the Kokrajhar detention camp. With her death, the toll has risen to 30 deaths since 2016. Her daughter is also an inmate of the same detention camp.

When even prisoners, who have been punished for criminal acts, are being released on parole, these detainees who are living in civil prisons in deplorable conditions feel they deserve to be released without having to go through tedious legal formalities in these times of crisis. Now that the apex court has issued notice to the government, there is still a ray of hope for these detainees. The court has scheduled the hearing for April 13.

Related:

Muslims in Assam fear they may have to bear the brunt of Tablighi Jamaat’s mistake
SC orders Teltumbde-Navlakha to surrender in one week
Bizarre letter to CJI seeks demolition of Markaz building, CBI probe in “COVID conspiracy”

Assam Detention Camps: Another plea in SC seeking release of those who have served two years behind bars

This plea is second of its kind, after the outbreak of COVID19 in India, the first one had asked for release of all detainees unconditionally

Supreme CourtImage Courtesy: telegraphindia.com

A Supreme Court Bench headed by CJI SA Bobade has issued notice in a petition seeking release of those detainees who have completed two years in Assam's detention camps. There are six detention camps in Assam, all housed in district prisons, in which currently there are about 800 inmates. These detention camps house persons who have been “declared foreigner” by a Foreigners Tribunal.

The petitioner, Raju Bala Das, who himself is a detainee himself, has completed 2 years in detention and has appealed to the apex court to consider the issue of over-crowding in these detention centres which should be a matter of concern given the health crisis in the country due to COVID19 pandemic. While people are being advised to practice social distancing to save themselves from being infected by the novel corona virus, detainees are forced to live cheek-by-jowl in these camps. The petition states that the court should take into consideration the unhygienic and crowded living conditions in detention camps especially when there is no chance of the declared foreigners being deported in such times.

This petition comes close at the heels of another representation filed by an organization called “Justice and Liberty Initiative” seeking unconditional release of all the detainees languishing in detention camps. This plea had stated, “being human beings they also have at least the basic right to live and to not die of COVID-91 in the precincts of a prison, which has despicable living conditions”. It pointed out that the detainees are neither criminals, nor a threat to the society.

In May 2019, the Supreme Court had already given an order for release of detainees who have completed three years or more in detention camp. This release was however, conditional on execution of bond with two sureties of Rs. One lakh from Indian citizens and on providing verifiable address after release. After this order was passed, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) was successful in seeking release of eleven such detainees. This includes a family of three, husband, wife and son detained in Tezpur detention camp. Owing to poverty, Jainuddin, Hajira Bibi, and Kamal Ali were unable to file any bail application and CJP fought long and hard to help them get released. Further, two brothers, Samsul Ali and Abdur Rashid were also released from detention after CJP’s Assam team battled legal formalities for four months.

While these detainees have been fortunate enough to be released, there are as many as 802 people still living in detention camps, away from their families. Yesterday, a woman inmate, Robida Begum (60) died of cancer in the Kokrajhar detention camp. With her death, the toll has risen to 30 deaths since 2016. Her daughter is also an inmate of the same detention camp.

When even prisoners, who have been punished for criminal acts, are being released on parole, these detainees who are living in civil prisons in deplorable conditions feel they deserve to be released without having to go through tedious legal formalities in these times of crisis. Now that the apex court has issued notice to the government, there is still a ray of hope for these detainees. The court has scheduled the hearing for April 13.

Related:

Muslims in Assam fear they may have to bear the brunt of Tablighi Jamaat’s mistake
SC orders Teltumbde-Navlakha to surrender in one week
Bizarre letter to CJI seeks demolition of Markaz building, CBI probe in “COVID conspiracy”

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