1,000 Foreigners Tribunals to be Established in Phases, Assam Govt to Set Up 200 Additional FTs by Sep 1
Realising that having 1,000 FTs by July 31, the deadline to publish the National Register of Citizens, is not an easy task, authorities have reworked the target and decided to set up 200 new FTs in the first phase by September 1.
People wait to check their names on the draft NRC list at a centre in Nagaon district, Assam. (Reuters)
Guwahati: The 1000 Foreigners Tribunals, which were to be set up in Assam by July 31, would now be established in phases, with the first 200 expected to come up by September 1, official sources said on Friday.
Realising that having 1,000 FTs by July 31, the deadline to publish the National Register of Citizens (NRC), is not an easy task, authorities have reworked the target.
Currently, Assam has 100 FTs that have the mandate to decide whether a person is a foreigner or an Indian citizen.
A person whose name is not part of the NRC, currently being updated under the supervision of the Supreme Court, can approach any FT with a certified copy of the rejection order received from NRC authorities along with grounds for appeal.
"We have to set up 1,000 FTs in total, but these cannot be set up in one go. It has to be done in phases. So, we will set up 200 new FTs in the first phase by September 1. Then another 200 in the next phase. We have already begun the process," an official source of the state Home Department told PTI.
To implement setting up of the new FTs, the government has already formed an Electronic Foreigners Tribunal Mission Directorate (e-FTMD).
"We have appointed IPS officer Anand Prakash Tiwari as the CEO of the Directorate. It will recruit the manpower, create logistics and look after any other requirement for setting up the new FTs. Already some advertisements have been made," he said.
When asked how long it will take to have the 1,000 FTs from the 100 at present, the home department official said, "It will take at least two years".
"Once the final NRC will be published on July 31, then the state government will start referring the names excluded in the document to the FTs through Assam Border Police.
"The NRC cannot decide if someone is a foreigner or not. Only FTs can declare a person foreigner. So, we will gradually refer all the applicants, whose names will not appear in the NRC, to the FTs to determine their nationalities," he added.
Besides, the government is at present taking legal opinion to those probable cases, in which a person's name will be excluded from NRC but he has a valid Indian passport or figures in voter's list or owns registered land and properties or works in government job.
Last month, the Centre had decided to help the state in setting up 1,000 FTs by July 31 and even Home Ministry Secretary (Border Management) B R Sharma held a meeting with the Assam government regarding this.
The move came after the Supreme Court questioned the state government's plan to set up 1,000 FTs, pointing out that it would be difficult to find 1,000 legal officers to preside over them.
It is estimated that the tribunals will require nearly 12,000 personnel, including judicial officers. The state government along with the Home Ministry and other agencies have been tasked to identify retired judicial officers for the purpose.
Recently, the Home Ministry laid down the modalities for FTs in Assam for deciding appeals made by people not satisfied with the outcome of claims and objections filed against the NRC.
In a statement, the ministry had said that an order was issued mandating the FTs to deliver verdict of any case related to those people, whose names could be excluded from the final list of NRC, within four months.
In July last year, 40,07,707 people were excluded from the complete draft of the NRC, which contained 2,89,83,677 eligible persons out of a total 3,29,91,384 applicants.
An additional 1,02,462 persons were included last month in the list of excluded persons, taking the total ineligible persons to 41,10,169 in the complete draft of the historic document, touted to be a proof of Assamese identity.
In February this year, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary had informed the Assam Assembly that a total of 6,26,793 cases were registered against suspected foreigners since 1985 to August 2018 across the state.
"Of which, Foreigners Tribunal has declared 1,08,815 as Indians and 1,03,764 as foreigners. During this period, 29,829 foreigners have been deported," he had added.
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