[dropcap]T[/dropcap]HE Supreme Court stopped short of issuing a non-bailable arrest warrant against the Chief Secretary of Assam in connection with the case relating to the living conditions of illegal immigrants in detention centres in the state, following his absence from the hearing in court.
“There is a reason why we wanted the Chief Secretary to be present. But he is not here. Should we issue a nonbailable warrant against him? Do you want this court to invoke its power under Art 32?” Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked in a strongly worded rebuke. The three-judge bench headed by CJI Gogoi, Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna went on to say yesterday, “He (Chief Secretary) is playing around with the court and you (law officers) are just dragging the matter”. “The State (Government of Assam) is playing with this court. Your affidavit is an exercise in futility,” Chief Justice Gogoi said.
After the Solicitor General Tushar gave an assurance that the Chief Secretary would be present for the next hearing, the Court decided against issuing the warrant.
The Court has now summoned the Chief Secretary of Assam to be present in Court for the next hearing on April 08, 2019 and said that the Chief Secretary would not be allowed to return to the state till the court granted permission for him to leave.
PIL regarding detention centres
A public interest petition has been filed by social activist Harsh Mander through advocate Prashant Bhushan on the deteriorating conditions of the detention centres, where illegal immigrants who were declared foreigners by the Foreigners’ Tribunals have been kept.
On March 13, 2019, it was brought in the notice of the court that the Foreigner Tribunals in the state of Assam are not functioning efficiently and the detainees were being kept in six detention centres across Assam indefinitely, without any permanent solution.
The CJI had at that time expressed his strong displeasure when the Solicitor General failed to provide the court with the number of foreigners missing in the state. CJI Gogoi asked “What have you done so far? How will you track down those 70,000 declared illegal foreigners who have merged with the populations?”