SC Decides on Release of Detainees in Assam Amid COVID-19

The Supreme Court on Monday decided to release detainees imprisoned for more than two years at the Assam Detention Centers. These persons may be released on personal bond combined with one surety. A bench comprising of Chief Justice SA Bobde, LN Rao & M.M Shantanagoudar said, “We will pass orders in this regard. We will pass orders today”.

The petition was filed by Raju Bala Das, who was a detainee in Assam for more than two years. He cited the risk of COVID-19 infection in the overcrowded detention centres of Assam. Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves appearing for the National Forum of Prisons argued that the detainees of Assam must be released. As a result, the Court questioned the feasibility of this petition; because the detainees are foreigners and thus, they might abscond. However, Gonsalves asserted that these detainees were not in fact foreigners per se, but people who had been residing within India for over five decades.

Previously, in May 2019, the Supreme Court issued directions for the release of persons who were detained for more than three years in the Detention Centers of Assam. As per the statement made by Union Minister, Nityanand Rai, in March, there are six detention centres in Assam with 802 detainees.