Due to fear of the fast-spreading COVID-19 pandemic, India’s Supreme Court has directed the Indian federal and the Assam state governments to release ‘illegal foreigners’ held in the state prisons since 13th April, 2020.
To avoid overcrowding in prisons, Supreme Court of India has directed release on bail of those prisoners held for two years or less , for which they have been asked to furnish two personal bonds worth Rs 5000 each and two sureties of the same amount
Chief Justice of India S.A.Bobde headed three members bench modified Supreme Courts 2019 order which had allowed such people to leave the detention centre on bail if they had completed three years in detention.
339 declared foreigners have already been released from prisons in Assam’s Dibrugarh, Goalpara, Kokrajhar, Silchar, Jorhat and Tezpur central jail detention centres till 10th June.
Earlier in 2019 a petition was filed by human rights activist Harsh Mander seeking release of foreigners who have been detained indefinitely.
After reducing the detention period of declared foreigners from three years to two , 44 declared foreigners were released from silchar central jail alone.
Now only four detained declared foreigners are left in Silchar central jail. Their two years term of detention will be completed in 2021.
The Supreme Court ‘s order came up after Justice and Liberty initiative, a human rights body in Guwahati, approached the Chief Justice of India to release all the declared foreigners citing the threat of spread of Covid-19 pandemic.
According to a statement issued by Minister of State for Home, Nityananda Rai in the Rajya Sabha on March 11, there are a total of 802 declared foreigners in detention centres at Goalpara, Tezpur, Jorhat, Kokrajhar, Silchar and Dibrugarh.
(Arpita Dutta is Easternlink contributor in Assam)