SC Expresses Annoyance over Slow Progress Of Work Related To NRC & Foreigners’ Detention In Assam

INDIA’s Supreme Court on Wednesday emphasised that it will not extend the July 31 deadline for publication of the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam saying the NRC work and Lok Sabha polls can go on simultaneously in the State. The Centre informed the apex court that 167 companies of central armed police forces (CAPF) deployed in the State will not be diverted for poll duty. A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice RF Nariman said requisite manpower and technology needed for publication of final NRC by July 31 will be provided.“We will not extend the deadline for publication of final NRC on July 31, 2019. Lok Sabha polls and NRC work can go on simultaneously,” the bench said after State NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela submitted that some of the officials engaged in the NRC exercise have been assigned poll duty.Hajela also said that he needs them back to join the NRC exercise post-poll in order to meet the deadline. “Till elections in the State are over, I have to work with current set of people. But after the polls, more people will be needed for the NRC work. I will also be needing IT people for quality checks and data entry to meet the deadline of July 31,” he said.The bench said, “All we are concerned is meeting the deadline of July 31. After the polls more manpower and technology support will be provided. How you do the work is your concern,” the bench told Hajela.Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the Centre said that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has passed an order by which 167 companies of CAPF currently engaged in NRC work will not be withdrawn from the State.The top court posted the matter for further hearing on April 10 and said that in case of any difficulties faced in the NRC publication work, the bench would meet every month for 10 minutes to take stock of the situation. On February 5, the apex court had observed that the Centre is “hell bent” on stalling the Assam NRC work while rapping it for seeking suspension of the process during the polls citing non-availability of security forces. The court had reiterated it would not extend the deadline of July 31 and also directed that 3,457 State government officers be kept free for NRC work and asked the Election Commission to “examine the case of exemption of officers, in the rank of District Magistrates, Additional District Magistrates… from transfers which are likely to be made in view of the elections”. The Centre had said that in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, 2,500 CAPF companies were deployed and this year, around 2,700 would be needed to ensure law and order. The Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up the Assam government for not being sincere enough in deporting illegal migrants from the State, observing the situation has gone too far and become a joke.The apex court gave vent to its ire while dealing with the functioning of the foreigners tribunals and the problem of “external aggression” faced by the State due to influx of illegal migrants. A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna also questioned the Assam government whether the foreigners tribunals and the law-enforcing authorities are functioning properly.“It has become a joke now. We must say that the situation has gone too far. You have not done anything. The Foreigners’ Tribunals have identified 56,697 persons as foreigners and yet only around 900 persons are in detention centres,” the bench said, telling the Assam government it was not able to deport illegal migrants to the country of their origin. Referring to the 2005 verdict in the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act – IMDT – case filed by Sarbananda Sonowal,now  heading the  NE state as its  Chief Minister, the Bench observed  Assam was facing threat of “external aggression” because of the large scale influx of immigrants. “We would like to know from Government of India and Government of Assam about what is being done about this threat,” it asked.“It is evident from the record as how sincerely the Government of Assam is dealing with the issue and how it plans to go further. It seems nobody is bothered. We want everything in detail,” the court said. Not satisfied with the replies of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Assam government on the issue of functioning of foreigners tribunals, the bench said it would summon the chief secretary and the home secretary of the State to explain the situation.“We are not even told who are the foreigners or who were detected or suspected to be foreigners. Who are the presiding officers in the foreigners tribunals and how many foreigners tribunals are functioning properly in the State,” the bench said.Mehta said that the affidavit with all the queries of the bench will be filed in the course of the day and urged the court to hear the matter on Thursday or any other day. He said that 150 people who have come to India on valid documents need to be deported, while 823 people who are mostly illegal immigrants are detained in six detention centres of the State. The bench asked Mehta to inform it about how many migrants have been declared as foreigners by the tribunal and where are those persons. The solicitor general replied that in the past ten years, 56,697 people were declared as foreigners and only 823 people are living in detention centres.“Most of the persons against whom proceedings get initiated in the foreigners tribunal try to abscond and mingle with the crowd. Under the law they cannot be detained with the start of proceedings and can only be detained after the award from the tribunal,” he said. Mehta said that it is only for this reason that most of the award from the tribunal is ex parte and explains the huge difference between the award and persons in detention centres(with The Assam Tribune’s inputs).


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