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SC raps Assam for failure to check illegal migrants

THE ASIAN AGE. | J VENKATESAN
Published : Mar 14, 2019, 7:12 am IST
Updated : Mar 14, 2019, 7:12 am IST

Justice Gogoi asked the SG as to what the Centre and Assam was doing to prevent the infiltrators from getting merged with the local populace.

Supreme Court of India (Photo: PTI)
 Supreme Court of India (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked Centre and Assam described as “joke” the steps taken so far by the authorities in tackling the menace of “external aggression” in Assam through large-scale influx of illegal migrants. A three-judge Bench comprising the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjay Kishan Kaul expressed dissatisfaction over the steps taken in the last few years to check the entry of illegal migrants asked the Centre and Assam to explain measures on how to put an end to this menace. The CJI told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta “State of Assam is facing external aggression. We would like to know what steps Government of India had taken to meet the external aggression. We want to know how you are going to tackle the problem? You are treating the issue as joke.”

The court also sought the following details from Assam government for the past 10 years relating to: number of persons declared as foreigners by the various foreigners’ tribunals; number of persons who are detained in the detention centres and the number of persons so far sent back to their countries of origin after being declared foreigners.

Further, the state has to furnish information as to whether the existing foreigners’ tribunals are adequate, or specify the precise number of additional tribunals required, which shall be filed in the form of an affidavit before the next date of hearing.

The court passed the directions while dealing with a PIL filed by former civil servant Harsh Mander bringing to the court’s notice the alleged prolonged incarceration of hundreds of illegal migrants in detention centres.

During the resumed hearing the CJI was critical of the Solicitor General when he informed the court that roughly there are about 50,000-60,000 illegal migrants in Assam and 800 of them are presently in various detention centres after being declared illegal foreigners by the various tribunals.

Justice Gogoi asked the SG as to what the Centre and Assam was doing to prevent the infiltrators from getting merged with the local populace. The CJI then pointed out that in December 2014, the apex court had already ruled that large-scale influx of illegal migrants into Assam amounted to an “External aggression”.

The bench was upset that the Assam government could not provide basic details to the court as to actual number of illegal foreigners into the state, the number of foreigners’ tribunals, and the total number of cases pending before them. The CJI told the SG “How serious Assam government is to deal with the issue?”

Prashant Bhushan counsel for Harsh Mander submitted that the government could consider subjecting the illegal foreigners to GPS monitored bracelets to keep a track on their movements without putting them into detention camps. The Bench posted the matter for further hearing on March 27.

NRC deadline July 31:
Meanwhile another Bench headed by the CJI said it was determined that the final NRC would be published by the authorities as per the deadline of July 31, 2019. It said after the conclusion of the election process, the State Coordinator for NRC Prateek Hajela would be free to seek and deploy adequate number of personnel for competing the NRC work so as to meet the July 31 deadline fixed by the court.

Today Attorney General K.K. Venugopal informed the court that the Centre had agreed not to disturb the 67 companies of central forces deployed in the state of Assam. The will continue to be employed for the NRC work in terms of the apex court February 5, directions, the AG said.

On February 5, the court had come down heavily on the Ministry of Home Affairs for its perceived efforts to “destroy” the ongoing preparation of final NRC exercise in Assam, as it refused to entertain Centre’s plea for suspending the process by two weeks for the ostensible purpose of deploying 167 companies of central police forces in the state across the country during the ensuing general elections.

Tags: supreme court, assam government, illegal migrants