Detention centres cannot be inside jail premises and if suitable accommodation is not available, the State government may look for hiring of private buildings for the purpose, the Gauhati High Court has said.
A single judge bench of the Gauhati High Court on a batch of writ petitions facilitated by ‘Studio Nilima: Collaborative Network for Research and Capacity Building’ challenging declaration of jails as detention centres in Assam.
The High Court held that the declaration of a part of the jail premises in six districts of Assam as detention centres are “not the complete requirement of the order of the Supreme Court in Bhim Singh vs Union of India case, communications of the MHA as well as the Model Manual for the Detention Centres”, The Assam Tribune reported.
The decision in the Bhim Singh vs Union of India as reported had held that detenues cannot be treated as prisoners and cannot be confined to prison and deprived of basic human rights and human dignity.
The Court maintained that the directions of the Supreme Court, communications of Ministry of Home Affairs and the Model Manual for Detention Centres, 2019 provides that detention centres should be set up outside the jail premises.
“If suitable accommodation is not available, the State government may look for hiring of private buildings for the purpose,” the HC said.
Part of the jail premises in Silchar and Kokrajhar have been declared as detention centres in 2010 as a “temporary measure”.
Later, parts of the existing jail premises in Goalpara, Jorhat, Dibrugarh and Tezpur were also declared as detention centres for the purpose of detaining persons pending their deportation.
“It is discernible that more than 10 years have gone by since a part of the jail premises in Goalpara, Kokrajhar and Silchar had been declared to be detention centres.
Certainly a period of more than 10 years cannot be understood to be a temporary arrangement,” the court observed.
The HC has directed the Assam home and political department to submit an action taken report by October 16 as to what steps have been taken to set up detention centres outside the jail premises in compliance with the law.