Supreme Court
Supreme Court. File image

As a preventive measure to contain the spread of COVID19, the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday ordered to release the foreigners, who have been lodged in Assam’s detention centres for more than two years.

The apex court has issued the directive by modifying its order passed last year.

The Supreme Court on May 10 last year ordered that the foreigners, who had served more than three years, be released on bail after production of two sureties worth Rs. 1 lakh each and a bond.

In its order passed on Monday, apex court reduced the condition to two sureties worth Rs. 5,000 each, said a report.

According to the report, advocate Shoeb Alam argued through videoconferencing in Supreme Court for a rights organization ‘Justice and Liberty Initiative’, an intervenor represented through advocate on record Talha A. Rahman.

The court issued the order after hearing a suo motu petition regarding overcrowding of prisons during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The case was heard by a Bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices L Nageshwara Rao and Mohan M Shantanagoudar.

Senior advocate Salman Khurshid reportedly asked the top court whether its previous order on decongestion of prisons would apply to detention centres in Assam.

The advocate appearing for Assam maintained that “the people in the centers have been convicted and held guilty of illegally entering. They are not eligible for release”.

According to the report, Attorney General KK Venugopal submitted that if an infected person is released, then they would infect others too.

Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, who appeared for the National Forum for Prison Reforms, stated that the released persons would be checked for any symptoms.

The report quoted Gonsalves as saying: “The health authorities are keeping an eye on them. There is no issue of transportation, no problem at all.”

Advocate Khurshid was also said the prisoners can be checked before their release from the detention centres.

AG Venugopal, while speaking on the issue of release from prisons, maintained that such a release during lockdown was “not feasible”.

But Chief Justice Bobde stated that such an apprehension about a Coronavirus (COVID19) positive inmate infecting others upon release was “hypothetical”.

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