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'What's So Confidential?': Delhi HC Tells Centre to Share MHA Memo on Deportation of Illegal Bangladeshi Migrants

File photo of Delhi High Court.

File photo of Delhi High Court.

The court was hearing a petition by three people claiming to be Bangladeshi nationals who seek to be repatriated to their country

The Delhi High Court Tuesday asked the Centre to share in a sealed cover its office memorandum pertaining to the deportation of illegal migrants from Bangladesh. Justice Rekha Palli passed the order after she was informed by central government counsel Dev Prakash Bhardwaj that the document was confidential in nature.

What is so confidential? Just because you appear for the Union you have the habit of saying confidential, the court remarked. Bhardwaj then submitted that the document could be shared with the court in a sealed cover, although he himself had not seen it.

The court was hearing a petition by three people claiming to be Bangladeshi nationals who seek to be repatriated to their country. The three, one of whom is a minor, assert that it is unclear as to how they reached here and were presently residing in a night shelter.

Advocate Kamlesh Kumar Mishra, representing them, submitted that his clients may be allowed leave and the petition be disposed of. The court, however, responded, This is not so easy. I can’t pass such a simple order.

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Bhardwaj said that there was a procedure to be followed in such cases and they have to first get an exit permit from the Embassy of Bangladesh. In its affidavit filed in response to the petition, the Home Ministry and Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO), Delhi, stated that since the foreign nationals here do not possess any travel documents such as visa or any document to prove their identity, they were illegal migrants who could be repatriated to their home country only after their nationality is confirmed.

The affidavit further informs that task of detection and identification of illegal migrants from Bangladesh in the national capital was assigned to Delhi Police. Explaining the procedure for deportation, the affidavit submits that after receiving such Bangladeshi nationals, their movement is restricted and once arrangement for repatriation is made, they are sent to West Bengal where they are handed over to Indian Border Security Force for their passage through the immigration borders.

It is also stated that since India shares a porous border with Bangladesh, there is an influx of illegal migrants from there and the procedure adopted for their repatriation is different and simpler from that of illegal migrants of other nationalities. FRRO, Delhi being the civil authority has been repatriating illegal migrants of Bangladesh as per instructions issued by Ministry of Home Affairs… The above mentioned memorandums are secret in nature and can be produced in a sealed cover whenever ordered/required.., the affidavit reads.

On an earlier occasion, Delhi Police had informed the court that the three persons in question in the petition were not found to be involved in any criminal or other case. The court allowed Mishra to file a short response to centre’s affidavit. The matter would be heard next on August 2.

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first published:July 13, 2021, 17:43 IST