Scott Morrison arriving for talks with India's Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Rajnath Singh.

Scott Morrison arriving for talks with India's Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Rajnath Singh. Photo: Jason Koutsoukis

Family members among 157 asylum seekers being detained on the high seas in separate rooms on a customs vessel are allowed out for meals and "approximately three hours’’ of daylight a day, according to documents lodged with the High Court on Tuesday.

While it was previously stated that 153 asylum seekers were on board a boat that was intercepted off Christmas Island more than three weeks ago, the documents say the actual number is 157.

A document filed by the Abbott government reveals that the National Security Committee of cabinet decided on July 1, two days after the boat was intercepted, that those on board "should be taken to a place other than Australia".

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison are part of the national security committee of cabinet which made the decision that the asylum seekers on board “should be taken to a place other than Australia”.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison are part of the national security committee of cabinet which made the decision that the asylum seekers on board “should be taken to a place other than Australia”. Photo: Andrew Meares

The document says the asylum seekers are permitted "approximately three hours' outside during the day in natural light for meals", but says it would be unsafe to give them unrestricted movement.

The document maintains the government is acting within the scope of the Maritime Powers Act in detaining the asylum seekers on the customs vessel and has no obligation to afford them procedural fairness.

The national security committee of cabinet includes Prime Minister Tony Abbott, deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Treasurer Joe Hockey, Attorney-General George Brandis, Defence Minister David Johnston and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.

A challenge to the decision to hold the asylum seekers indefinitely on the high seas and not allow their claims to be assessed on Christmas Island is now being fought on behalf on one of the male asylum seekers on board.

In their defence, the government does not admit that he has family members on the vessel but confirms the asylum seekers are being held in three rooms, and that "families cannot be accommodated together while maintaining appropriate separation between men, women and children".

It was filed as the Immigration Minister Scott Morrison arrived in New Delhi in what is seen as an attempt to negotiate the return of the asylum seekers, who are of Tamil ethnicity from Sri Lanka, to India, where their boat journey began.

A directions hearing on a High Court challenge to the government’s actions will resume on Wednesday.

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