Taking up a public interest litigation seeking release of a Burmese couple and their four minor children illegally confined in the Amritsar central jail despite the completion of their sentence in March 2009, the Punjab and Haryana high court has issued notices of motion to the Centre as well as the Punjab government.
The petition, filed by Chandigarh-based NGO Lawyers for Human Rights International, came up for hearing before a division bench headed by chief justice Arjan Kumar Sikri on Wednesday. The court was told that the foreign inmates were not being released because of the non-verification of their citizenship.
It was submitted that the NGO members, after interacting with Sona Ali, his wife Zulekha Begum and their four children at the Amritsar jail, came to know that the inmates had illegally strayed into Indian territory in 2008 and were arrested by Border Security Force personnel at the international border near Amritsar. An FIR in the case was registered on September 30, 2009 at the Jhabbal police station in Amritsar district under the Passport Act and Foreigners Act. Later, the Burmese nationals were convicted and sentenced to six-month imprisonment.
The petitioner told the court that in the present case, four juvenile children were illegally detained in the jail without providing them any formal education. He said that since the children were too young to take a decision on their own, they were being punished for an offence committed by their parents.
The case will next come up for hearing on March 19.