New Delhi: In a surprising statement, the Assam government's chief secretary admitted before the Supreme Court on Tuesday that the BJP-ruled state's performance in tracing and deporting illegal immigrants has been "extremely poor".
The statement by chief secretary has come at a time when the issue of illegal migrants finds much emphasis in the BJP's manifesto. Party president Amit Shah has also stated on record in his election speeches that only the Narendra Modi-led government can evict all illegal immigrants from Assam.
Chief secretary Alok Kumar had shown up in the top court following an order by the bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, which has been scrutinising the Assam government's steps in deporting the illegal immigrants who have been declared foreigners after the due process.
The bench grilled Kumar about around 44,000 illegal immigrants whose records were missing now because, according to the state government's affidavit, they had merged with the local population.
“Out of 46,000 that you identified as foreigners between 2015 and 2018, you could only find 2000. Of this, you could deport only four. How do you explain this?” the CJI asked Kumar.
Kumar tried to explain the situation but the bench asked him whether the Assam government was still being run in accordance with the Constitution and discharging its solemn duties.
With not much to explain, Kumar owned up: "I must say that performance to trace the illegal foreigners in the state has been extremely poor".
"Put that on record. File an affidavit and say that the state's track record in tracing and deporting illegal immigrants has been very poor," retorted the bench.
Kumar also tried to explain the Court about the task force: the directions given to them for registering FIRs against illegal immigrants and taking over their properties.
He also pointed out that it would require around 1000 new foreign tribunals to deal with the cases once the NRC is finalised.
But the bench noted that the state government had no idea how it would deal with the issues in hand when it did not look prepared at all.
Finally, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who represented the state government, requested the bench to adjourn the matter in view of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Mehta pointed out that Assam has polls in three stages between April 11 and 23, and that adverse comments from the top court may have serious repercussions.
When the bench resumed after lunch, it adjourned the case to April 25, directing the chief secretary to file his affidavit detailing all the proposed steps and also various measures for detainees in the detention centres.