The Gauhati High Court has given the Assam government 45 days to complete the construction of a facility to house “illegal foreigners” in Goalpara district.
The centre at Matia in Goalpara, about 150 km from Guwahati, is being built to exclusively house people declared and convicted as foreigners by the foreigners tribunals.
It is being constructed at a cost of Rs 46 crore and will have the capacity to house about 3,500 people.
Justice Kalyan Rai Surana directed the Home and Political Department of Assam government to file a status report on the centre’s construction after 45 days and posted the matter for hearing on September 30.
The government has told the court that steps are being taken to complete construction. The state government’s counsel sought six weeks’ time to complete the construction and shift the detenues to the new facility.
Currently, all the centres to detain “illegal foreigners” in Assam are located within jail premises. These are in Tezpur, Silchar, Jorhat, Kokrajhar and Goalpara districts.
The court had earlier directed the state government to take steps to shift those people to facilities outside the premises of prisons.
The matter relates to petitions filed by Santhanu Borthakur, Abantee Dutta and Dipika Sarkar with regard to the operation of detention centres for accommodating foreigners/illegal migrants and others who are awaiting deportation or repatriation to the countries of their origin or waiting for a ruling on their appeals.
According to the Assam government, as of April 2021, 2,98,471 cases have been disposed of by the Foreigners Tribunals so far and 1,36,173 cases are pending.
Meanwhile, the Assam government has renamed the detention centres for foreigners to the more humane expression, transit camps. A 12-year-old notification was modified to effect this.