Skip to content Skip to navigation

Supreme Court remarks on illegal detention fly in face of India’s constitutional and international obligations: CHRI

New Delhi: The Supreme Court needs to reaffirm India’s constitutional and international obligations to rights on complex issues of nationality, detention and deportation and not be unmindful of its own commitment to these duties, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has urged.

The following is the text of the statement, issued today, and signed by a group of eminent citizens including former Supreme Court Justice Madan Lokur, Wajahat Habibullah, CHRI’s Chair and former Chief Information Commissioner, Justice AP Shah, former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, and a number of senior former officials and civil society leaders:

As concerned citizens, we look to the Supreme Court to reaffirm India’s constitutional and international obligations to rights on sensitive issues. That is why we are disappointed by recent statements by the Chief Justice of India on a complex matter relating to illegal detention and deportation, without heeding India’s own constitutional and international obligations.

While advocating greater detention of suspected ‘foreigners’, the Chief Justice brushed aside the Assam Chief Secretary with a stinging admonition for proposing a methodology for the release of a handful of foreign prisoners who had been in detention beyond their term of sentence for illegal entry. This was especially of concern for the case concerned the wilful violation of the human rights of hundreds of detainees who were languishing in what the court itself accepts are “inhuman conditions”.

We regard these remarks as unfortunate.

Article 21 is very clear in its intent, ambit and process. It binds all duty-holders and citizens with the ringing affirmation that no person in India (and we emphasize that there no special privileges here for Indian citizens) can be deprived of her/his right to life and liberty without due process.

There is no deportation agreement with Bangladesh. International law lays down that such deportations can take place only with the consent of the country of origin. Bangladesh has consistently refused to accept that its citizens migrate in large numbers to India. Indeed, Bangladesh regards such unilateral efforts as harmful to a bilateral relationship that is critical for the security and stability of both countries and especially of our eastern region.

We cannot place ourselves in a situation where we are seen as forcing people out at gunpoint; it would be ethically unjust, wrong in law and draw international condemnation.

We are acutely sensitive to concerns in Assam and other parts of the North-east and across the country about the problem of illegal migration from Bangladesh, a long-standing issue that has defied official proclamations and pledges of “push back”, “deportation” and “detection”. Whatever methods are used they must be undertaken within the rule of law frame, be just and fair and designed to minimise individual hardship and tragedy. We believe there is a need that this is a tragedy of growing intensity which is gathering momentum as a result of the current National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise in Assam.

Accounts from Assam indicate that often arbitrariness not rule of law is used to define those who have come post-1971 from Bangladesh (of whatever religious denomination) and those who are Indian nationals.

Lakhs are in limbo and now fear that they may become “stateless” because of a process that is mired in a mix of complexity, confusion, lack of precision and prejudice.

Many of those at risk are from the bottom of the economic pyramid, unable to sustain the complex adjudication process needed to establish their citizenship. Large numbers are already in detention camps.

Although the Supreme Court mandated deadline for a ‘final’ list is July 2019, we understand that not less than 38 lakh persons out of the 40 lakh (four million) who had found themselves off the NRC last year have filed applications for inclusion. Such a huge number of requests cannot be processed in two months and we urge that this not be hurried as the consequences are too devastating to contemplate. The efforts need to be steady and methodical so that the charges of arbitrariness, prejudice and poor record keeping, which have plagued the NRC process, do not stick.

It must be pointed out here that India is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in which its representatives played a stellar part in developing the language that all of us are familiar with in regard to equality, non-discrimination and gender. Our international commitments are clear as to the rights of people affected in such situations.

It would also be unacceptable if any Indian of any religious denomination is harmed by negligence, wilful prejudice, wrongful confinement and prosecution.

Failure to address this critical situation adequately and justly would be seen internationally as a gross violation of human rights and a blot on India's traditional record. What is also of concern to us are social fault lines that could be exacerbated by insensitive handling that could leave many people desperate, particularly youth, with the potential of radicalization.

As concerned citizens, we appeal to the judicial system and the government to explore a solution that addresses the human dimension. The situation in Assam and inter alia other parts of the North-east represent unprecedented challenges and conditions that cannot be resolved by application of a routine legal framework which is designed to deal with individual cases.

Wajahat Habibullah, Chairperson, CHRI

Members:

Justice Madan Lokur

Justice AP Shah

Ms. Vineeta Rai (IAS, retd, former Revenue Secretary to the Government of India)

Nitin Desai, former Under Secretary, United Nations)

Jacob Punnoose (IPS, retd)

Poonam Muttreja (Member, Executive Committee, CHRI)

Kamal Kumar (IPS, retd)

Ms. Maja Daruwala (Adviser, CHRI)

Jayanto N. Choudhury (IPS, retd)

Dr. BK Chandrashekar (ex MLC, Karnataka)

Sanjoy Hazarika (International Director)

Add new comment

Random Stories

SLRM project launched

31 Jul 2016 - 10:33am | AT Kokrajhar Bureau
Kokrajhar Municipality Board(KMB) launched its Solid & Liquid Resources Management Project(SLRM) under Swachch Kokrajhar Mission to make green and clean Kokrajhar in the district on Saturday....

Four NDFB and three GNLA cadres arrested in Dudhnoi and Lakhipur

2 Mar 2012 - 5:08am | Hamidul Gani
Four NDFB and three GNLA cadres were arrested in three different search operations on Wednesday. In the first operation, launched by the police and CRPF jawans, one NDFB cadre was held at Mandalgram...

Rabha Hasongs withdraws strike

13 Dec 2007 - 1:02pm | pbaruah
The embattled Rabha organisations have withdrawn the 48 hour National Highway bandh they called for in protest against the move to hold panchayat polls in the areas falling under the Rabha Hasong...

Farewell to Pranab Mukherjee

23 Jul 2017 - 11:19pm | AT News
Pranab Mukherjee turned emotional as he delivered his farewell speech at the Central Hall of Parliament on Sunday evening. In his 20 minute long speech, the out going President recollected...

Other Contents by Author

In a resolute display of solidarity and resilience, over 5,000 women hailing from the Kuki-Zomi-Hmar-Mizo communities congregated at Peace Ground, Tuibuong, Lamka, Churachandpur in Manipur, kickstarting the annual 16 Days Activism on Violence Against Women. Orchestrated by the Women of Lamka, the event was a fervent call for justice and a poignant outcry against the distressing instances of gender-based violence (GBV) that have plagued the state. Led by the indomitable Ngaineikim from Kuki Women organization for human rights, the program's inauguration was a tapestry of impassioned speeches, stirring presentations, and solemn moments dedicated to the victims. Distinguished figures such...
Guwahati: The Journalists’ Forum Assam (JFA) has voiced its deep concern regarding the recent surge in verbal assaults on journalists by various individuals. In response, the forum calls upon the State's media community to stand united in the face of adversity. In a released statement, the forum highlighted the disparaging remarks made by AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal towards video journalists, where he suggested that they should face physical violence. “While we vehemently denounce Ajmal's stance and urge for appropriate actions against the politician, we implore media professionals to demonstrate unity, integrity, and professionalism in their workplaces,” remarked JFA president Rupam...
The North-East Finale of the WWF-India Wild Wisdom Global Challenge 2023 was held on November 3, 2023, at Royal Global University in Guwahati, Assam. This year's challenge was themed "Birds of the World" and was open to students from classes 6 to 9. A total of 80 schools with 160 students from Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura, and various districts of Assam participated in the finale. After a closely contested competition, the team from Sarla Birla Gyan Jyoti School, Assam, represented by Ritvik Anand (class 6) and Garvita Jain (class 8), emerged as the North East Champions. The 2nd position was bagged by the team from Vivekananda Kendra Vidyalaya Tezpur, Assam...
Siliguri: Salesian College (Autonomous) Siliguri joined 11 other venues of Kolkata Salesian province in holding Don Bosco Global Youth Film Festival, 2nd edition on 13th October 2023. North Bengal’s acclaimed Nepali Film Director, musician and singer Mr. Anmol Gurung inaugurated the festival at Salesian College Siliguri just as Los Angeles Salesians hosted the Global Youth Film Awards in the picturesque foothills of Hollywood. “These films serve as a poignant canvas, capturing the myriad emotions, trials, tribulations, dreams, and aspirations of young people,” says Festival Director in Siliguri Salesian Fr C.M. Paul. Fr Paul adds, “They [films] also show the profound desire of...
In a celebration of literary heritage and a significant milestone, the Assam Publishing Company has released the long-awaited second edition of Anatole France's "Thais" in Assamese. The reissue of this classic comes exactly 59 years after its initial publication, bringing the timeless themes of love, temptation, and redemption to a new generation of readers. Golok Chandra Datta, an esteemed translator hailing from the region, skillfully translated the renowned French author Anatole France's work. This translation marks a crucial milestone in Datta's career as it represents his inaugural published translation effort. The translation aims to convey the depth and beauty of the original...
Guwahati, 23 September 2023: Assam Don Bosco University celebrated its 12th Convocation on Saturday, 23rd September, 2023, at Tapesia Campus Sonapur, Guwahati. The esteemed gathering included the Hon’ble Governor of Assam, Shri Gulab Chand Kataria, who graced the occasion as the university's visitor, along with Vice Chancellor Fr. (Dr) Jose Palley, Pro Vice Chancellor Fr. Joseph Nellnatt, Directors of Schools, Heads of Departments, faculty members, students, and dignitaries from across the country. Addressing the graduating students, Shri Gulab Chand Kataria encouraged them to contribute meaningfully to society, emphasizing the importance of innovation and dedication in shaping a better...
Golaghat: Last Wednesday, an insightful sensitization workshop addressing the detrimental effects of tobacco use was organized at the conference hall of the District & Sessions Judge’s office in Golaghat. The event witnessed the presence of key figures in the fight against tobacco consumption, including Secretary of DLSA Golaghat, Smt. JyotiSmita Sarma, Dr. Sunita Ekka from District Tobacco Control Cell, Golaghat, and Rudhir Prakash Sarma, Divisional Coordinator of Upper Assam Division from The UNION. Officials from the DLSA office and the health department also actively participated. The workshop commenced with a warm welcome address, followed by an insightful discussion on the...
Guwahati: Biodiversity conservation organizations, Aaranyak and WWF-India, have joined forces to tackle the growing issue of human-wildlife conflict (HWC), particularly the pressing concern of human-elephant conflict (HEC), by installing a remarkable 10 km-long low-cost solar fence in the fringes of the Central Range (Kachugaon) of Raimona National Park in Assam. This initiative aims to facilitate coexistence between humans and wildlife, offering immediate relief to the local community. The community-managed single-strand solar fence is expected to alleviate the ever-increasing incidents of HEC for approximately 568 households, which translates to a population of 2700-3000 people...
Guwahati: In an effort to nurture the next generation's understanding of nature and sustainability, WWF-India continues to make significant strides with its Ek Prithvi program. The importance of environmental education for the long-term success of children has never been more evident, and this program has been instrumental in connecting young minds to the environment. Launched in 2016, Ek Prithvi focuses on fostering environmental awareness, knowledge, and the skills required for conservation among students. It has already made a profound impact, reaching out to over 145,200 students across 11 states. When the pandemic struck, Ek Prithvi adapted with the "One Earth One Home" program,...
Dibrugarh - The North-East Affected Area Development Society (NEADS) and the Environmental Forum of Assam, in collaboration with the Centre for Social Work Studies at Dibrugarh University, successfully hosted a two-day 'People's Dialogue on Development Discourse in North East India' from August 28th to 29th. The event, held at the Vikshan conference hall of Dibrugarh University, gathered a diverse group of regional stakeholders to engage in insightful conversations aimed at reshaping development approaches in the North-East. The North-East region of India, known for its cultural diversity and unique geography, has often been a focal point for discussions on development, infrastructure,...