The Centre has informed the Supreme Court that the process of framing guidelines for keeping foreign nationals in detention centres across the country was “under preparation”. The Centre told a bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur that the work of framing detention manual or guidelines was being taken up “very seriously”. It also stated that in the meanwhile, some circulars have been issued to the state of Assam in this regard. The bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and R Subhash Reddy, said the Centre would ensure that requirements of the circulars or guidelines issued by the central government be adhered to by Assam.
The issue of framing of detention manual for keeping foreign nationals had cropped up when the apex court was hearing a matter related to the condition of detention centres in Assam. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Assam, told the bench that necessary steps would be taken by the state to implement “faithfully” the circulars issued by the Centre.
Mehta told the bench that tenders have been invited by Assam for setting up of a new detention centre in Goalpara and the work is expected to be completed using pre-fab technology by August 31 next year. “We expect the state of Assam to adhere to the timeline, more particularly since the executing agency is the Assam Police Housing Corporation Ltd,” the bench said.
The state government also said there were 47 declared foreign nationals or their family members that were proposed to be transferred for being re-united and the transfer process would take about 15 days. “We are of the view that it would be inappropriate to keep the families separated without any valid reason, more particularly since many of them have already been separated for a considerable period of time,” the bench said.
“Therefore, we require the state of Assam to speed up the process and complete it within a period of seven days and in any event within a maximum period of ten days since sufficient time has already elapsed,” the bench said in its November 2 order. The bench has posted the matter for further hearing in February next year. In September, the Centre had told the apex court that it was in the process of framing guidelines for keeping foreign nationals in detention centres across the country and the process would take around three months.
The court had said that the detention manual should be prepared within two months. The apex court had on September 12 expressed displeasure that foreign nationals kept in detention centres in Assam were “separated” from their families and had asked the state to look into the issue with urgency so that the families are “not broken up”.