Karnataka may soon have a detention centre for illegal immigrants. The state is already in the advanced stage of setting up one such centre near Bengaluru. The facility aims at detaining foreigners staying back without proper documentation.
Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai in a written response to a query by Bengaluru Central MP PC Mohan, said that the Karnataka government has informed the Centre that they are in the process of establishing a detention centre soon.
“The required police personnel and other infrastructure facilities have been allocated for this purpose and the necessary work is in progress,” Rai’s statement said.
In February, the Ministry of Home Affairs had informed the Supreme Court that it had allocated Rs 47 crore to the Assam government to establish a detention centre, which would be functional by August 31, 2019.
Several questions on the legality of detention centres have been raised even as the Supreme Court is hearing a case on the detention centre coming up in Assam.
According to Mrinal Sharma, Policy Advisor, Amnesty International India, the central government does have the power to detain foreigners and build detention centers under the Foreigners Act, 1946, it is only to be used as a last resort.
“While Section 3(e) and (g) of the Foreigners Act of 1946 allows the Central Government to detain a foreigner or keep them in a particular place or impose restrictions on their movements, it also provides for alternatives to detention. Section 3(f) allows foreigners to be released by entering into a bond with or without sureties. Section 4, on the other hand, states that a foreigner against whom a detention order has been made must be confined in a place which is subject to maintenance, discipline and punishment allowing for the construction of detention centers. The central government has delegated these powers to the state governments or FRROs,” she said.
However, she said that rampant use of detention was not in accordance with international law, which permits detention to be used only as a last resort where it is necessary, reasonable, and proportionate to a legitimate government objective.
Speaking to TNM, ADGP (Law and Order) Kamal Pant said TNM that only one detention facility would be set up in Karnataka, which is being established in Bengaluru Rural district’s Nelamangala taluk.
“The basic infrastructure has been identified. It has been repaired. There is some additional work to be done, which will be completed soon,” Kamal Pant added.
The work is being coordinated by various agencies including Foreigners Regional Registration Office, the state intelligence, which is the state government agency for keeping track of foreign nationals, the state police, which will be in charge of the security of the detention centre.
“We will need somebody to run the centre for day to day administration. This is most likely to become the responsibility of the Social Welfare Department. Besides that, we will have to follow the model of a correctional home and will consult with the Prisons department,” ADGP Kamal Pant added.
Rai, in his response stated that the government had not maintained an accurate record of the number of illegal immigrants. However, he said that Karnataka government’s figures indicated that, 143 cases were registered against “illegal Bangladeshi nationals” in the state and “144 illegal Bangladeshi nationals have been deported” so far.
The Centre had issued instructions to all state governments and union territory administrations in 2009, 2012, 2014 and 2018, to set up detention centres to restrict the movements of illegal immigrants to expedite the process of deportation.