Without mincing any words and without demonstrating any inhibition of any kind, the Patna High Court has as recently as on August 16, 2021 in a learned, laudable, latest and landmark judgment titled Marium Khatoon v. The State of Bihar through the Principal Secretary Home (Police), Patna, Bihar in Criminal Writ Jurisdiction Case No.390 of 2020 while underscoring that deportation of illegal migrants is of paramount importance and in the national interest directed the Bihar State Government to specify steps taken to sensitize people of Bihar for identification and deportation of the persons suspected to be illegal migrants. It merits no reiteration that illegal migrants are a big scourge and it not only substantially increases the population of the country but also places the country’s national security at a very high risk which any country can afford to ignore only at the cost of its own peril! It must be apprised here that the Bench comprising of Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice S Kumar was dealing with a case wherein two minor girls who undisputedly were foreign national, were housed at the After Care Home, Patna and for a considerably long period no action was taken by the State in pursuing the matter for their repatriation.
To start with, this brief, brilliant, bold and balanced judgment authored by a Bench of Patna High Court comprising of Chief Justice Sanjay Karol for himself and Justice S Kumar sets the ball rolling by first and foremost observing that, “The proceedings of the Court are being conducted by Hon’ble the Chief Justice/Hon’ble Judges through Video Conferencing from their residential offices/residences. Also the Advocates and the Staffs joined the proceedings through Video Conferencing from their residences/offices.”
Needless to say, the Bench then puts forth that, “We have perused the affidavit dated 16.08.2021 filed by Respondent No.1. The Government commits itself for setting up of detention centres on the lines of Chapter 2.6 of Model Detention Centre/Holding Centres/Camp Manual, 2019.”
Be it noted, the Bench then puts forth in the next para of this notable judgment that, “The relevant portion of the affidavit (para 6 and 7) is extracted hereunder:
“6. That it is further submitted that pursuant to the order dated 30.07.2021 passed by this Hon’ble court, matter with respect to the establishment of detention centre is examined in the light of the instructions issued time to time by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India and it is decided to establish detention/holding centre/camp outside the jail premises for restricting the movement of illegal foreign national.
7. That consequently, aforesaid proposal is sent in file for approval of the State Government. The State Government has approved the aforesaid proposal. Accordingly, the Home Department (Special Branch), Bihar, Patna vide letter no. 358 dated 12.08.2021 requested Inspector General, Prison and correction services, Bihar, Patna to establish the Detention Centre/Holding Centre/Camp outside the jail premises for restricting the movement of illegal foreign nationals awaiting for their deportation even after completion of sentence due to non confirmation of their nationality. Inspectorate of Prisons and Correctional Services, Bihar, Patna vide letter no. 7117 dated 13.08.2021 ordered and intimated for establishment of detention centre within the campus of Bihar Institute of Correctional Administration, Hajipur as temporary detention centre earmarked under Chapter 2.6 of Model Detention Centre/Holding Centre/Camp Manual, 2019 contained in Annexure-C of the 2nd supplementary counter affidavit filed by the respondent no.1.””
As it turned out, the Bench then states in the next para that, “Belated though, the process for setting up of the detention centres stands initiated, but however, the affidavit is vague insofar as- (a) the time frame for setting up of detention centre is concerned; and (b) whether the temporary detention centre is equipped with the requisite minimum infrastructure stipulated under Chapter-4 of the Rules referred to supra.”
To be sure, the Bench then states in the next para that, “Let a fresh affidavit be filed clarifying such a position.”
Quite significantly, the Bench then directs in the next para that, “Let the State Government also apprise the Court of the steps taken for sensitizing the general populace of Bihar, making them aware of the mechanism in place for identification and deportation of the persons suspected to be illegal migrant, more so from Bangladesh and the fact that such persons are required to be immediately deported for their entry in India is illegal under the Foreigners Act, 1946 and that their custody is required to be immediately handed over to the Nodal Officer, Government of West Bengal, in terms of communication dated 1 st of February, 2013, issued by the Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of India.”
Most significantly, the Bench then underscores in the next para that, “In fact, we are of the considered view that such process of sensitizing people, more so along the border areas, must be carried vigorously both through electronic and print media as also associating the public spirited persons/N.G.O’s for deportation of illegal migrants is of paramount importance and in national interest.”
It is worth noting that the Bench then enunciates in the next para that, “The Foreigners Act, 1946 imposes an obligation upon master of the vessel as also the passengers travelling therein and the housekeepers/lodgers permitting accommodation to such foreigners whose entry in India is contrary to law.”
As we see, the Bench then states that, “Affidavit to such an effect be also filed.”
To put it simply, the Bench then minces no words in laying down that, “Also it be made known as to whether the Government has worked out any mechanism for furnishing information on-line i.e. through digital mode to the concerned Agency; as to whether the record sought to be maintained under Sections 6 and 7 of the Foreigners Act, 1946 is digitalized and as to whether there is any mechanism in place for facilitating furnishing such information on-line.”
Furthermore, the Bench then also stipulates that, “Also whether Authorized Officers under the Foreigners Act, 1946 Act are verifying the record and monitoring the movement of any unauthorized persons or not.”
Adding more to it, the Bench then adds in the next para that, “Affidavit of compliance be filed by Respondent no.1 within two weeks.”
Finally, the Bench then holds in the final para that, “List on 04.09.021.”
In conclusion, we have to keep our fingers crossed till the case is decided finally! But one thing is for sure: Patna High Court has certainly minced just no words to make it absolutely clear in this cogent, composed, candid, commendable and convincing judgment that the deportation of illegal migrants is definitely of paramount importance and in national interest and no nation can ever afford to gloss over it! It certainly goes without saying that all the governments of all the states as also the Centre is duty bound to always ensure strictly that illegal migrants are deported at the earliest and not allowed to overstay in India as per their own whims and fancies! So it accordingly directs the government to sensitize the people of Bihar as already stated hereinabove! This is the crying need of the hour also! There can be no denying or disputing it!