The Supreme Court Tuesday directed the Assam government to apprise it of possible "ways and means" that can be adopted for releasing illegal foreigners who have been kept in the state's detention centres for a very long period. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also took note of the state's submissions that the observations during the hearing of this case may have some impact in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls in Assam and sought the hearing of the plea after April 23.
Lok Sabha elections in Assam would be held on April 23. Shifting the PIL for hearing on April 25, the bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, directed the Assam chief secretary to conduct a meeting of all stakeholders in the case and come out with an affidavit on or before April 23 giving details on releasing over 900 illegal foreigners in several detention centres there.
The top court was hearing a PIL filed by activist Harsh Mander, through advocate Prashant Bhushan, on the plight of foreigners in detention centres. The plea alleged that they are kept in detention indefinitely just because they are not Indians and are treated as "illegal aliens". The apex court on April 1 had expressed unhappiness over declared foreign nationals absconding and amalgamating with local population in Assam, and had summoned the state's chief secretary.
Accusing Assam government of "playing with the court", the apex court had also termed the reply filed by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) as an "exercise in futility" and sought to know as to how the persons, declared foreigners by the tribunal, have amalgamated with the local population. The bench had referred to the figure provided by the government that about 91,609 people have been declared as illegal foreigners by tribunals and out of them, 72,486 were absconding and around 900 persons are in kept in detention centres presently.
(With inputs from agencies.)