- The Supreme Court has questioned a proposal by the Assam government to quickly open 1,000 foreigners’ tribunals all over the state to try suspected illegal immigrants. The court has questioned the feasibility of setting up these tribunals and appointing judicial officers to preside over them.
- The court had highlighted that there would be an influx of petitions in the foreigners’ tribunals once the final NRC was published on July 31st. The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a register which contains the name of all citizens of India residing in Assam. The process of NRC update in Assam has been taken up as per a Supreme Court order in 2013.
- Foreigners Tribunal (FT) was set up in Assam in 1964 through the Foreigners Tribunal Order 1964. The tribunals are mandated with identifying the legal status of suspected foreigners in Assam.
- At present, there are 100 FTs in Assam; of these 64 were set up in 2015, to expedite the exercise of determining illegal immigrants in the state through the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
- Assam also had Illegal Migrants Determination Tribunal which was established in 1985 under the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) (IMDT) Act, 1983. The tribunals only considered the cases of those who had allegedly entered India after March 25, 1971. IMDT Act was enacted to put forward the procedures to detect illegal immigrants (from Bangladesh) and expel them from Assam.
- IMDT Act had placed the onus of proving citizenship on the accuser, rather than the accused and thus had made determining illegal migrants difficult. In 2006, the Act was struck down by the Supreme Court on the grounds that it was the main impediment the identification and deportation of illegal migrants.
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