New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has directed the central government to inform it on the continued detention of foreigners in Indian jails.
The court was dealing with a letter sent by a Saudi man languishing in Tihar jail in the capital through which the man sought help to go back to his country.
A division bench of Justice PK Bhasin and Justice Najmi Waziri ordered the External Affairs Ministry to appraise the court on the detention of foreigners in Indian jails in general and submit the records pertaining to the Saudi man.
The bench directed "some senior official" from the ministry to be present in court on the next date "with all the relevant records" pertaining to the matter.
The court was hearing a case based on the letter sent by Sheikh Abdul Aziz, a 32-year-old Saudi who was sent to jail by a Srinagar court in 2006 for failing to give satisfactory reason for travelling in India without a valid passport and visa.
Aziz had come to Bangladesh, from where he entered India through Kolkata. He remained in Odisha for some time and reached Srinagar through Delhi. He was apprehended on July 27, 2005 in Srinagar and later sent to a year`s imprisonment after being charged under the Foreigners Act.
While the Srinagar court directed the authorities to deport Aziz to his country within two months after his release, no efforts were made, he said in the plea.
The court also directed the Jammu and Kashmir government to file an affidavit justifying the extension orders for Aziz`s detention and that too outside the state.
During the hearing, the counsel for Jammu and Kashmir told the court that the detention orders were not passed due to any apprehension of illegal activities by Aziz on his coming out from jail.
The detention orders were passed as the state wanted him to be deported to the country of his origin. The central government was requested to take necessary steps but it did not even care to respond, the counsel told the court.
The court also directed director of the Home Ministry and the jail superintendent to appear on the next date of hearing.
Additional Solicitor General Rajeeve Mehra, appearing for the central government, told the court that there had been some correspondence between the Indian government and the Saudi Arabian embassy in Delhi to confirm the nationality of Aziz.
However, he said the Saudi Arabian government claimed Aziz was not a Saudi national.
"In view of the Saudi government disowning Aziz as its citizen, it shall now be examined by the central government as to what is required to be done in law as far as Aziz`s continued stay in India is concerned," he said.
Advocate Dayan Krishnan, appointed amicus curiae in the case, said there has to be some mechanism in force to take a decision in respect of the nationality of the person awaiting deportation.
Krishnan also said Aziz deserves to be compensated by India for his continued detention, which was apparently illegal.
The Additional Solicitor General said the compensation aspect would be looked into "because this kind of situation does not appear to have occurred earlier and would require serious consideration since liberty of a person is involved".