Thursday, April 25, 2019

No right to be in office, SC tells Assam chief secretary

The Supreme Court on Thursday gave a dressing-down to the Assam chief secretary for his submission that the state government is not bound by any decision of foreigners tribunals declaring a person an illegal migrant, saying he has “no right to continue in office”.
Assam chief secretary Alok Kumar, who was present in the court, had to face the ire of the bench, comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, for contending that the decision of foreigners tribunals might not be final and might not be accepted by the authority.

“This man does not know what he is saying. Does he deserve to be chief secretary. We are going to issue notice to him for making slanderous statements against the law and misleading the court. You have no right to continue in office,” the bench said.

“The opinion of foreigners tribunal may or may not be accepted by the referral authority. Fresh reference may be initiated against such proceeded person and fresh notices may be issued by the tribunal,” the state government said in its affidavit which was strongly objected to by the bench. The chief secretary apologised and told the court that a fresh affidavit will be filed. The court also slammed the Assam government for its failure to detect illegal Bangladeshi migrants in the state and expressed concern over their participation in the electoral process after obtaining voter cards. It also pulled up the state government for seeking release of those foreigners who had spent over five years in detention centres on execution of bond.

The bench got livid after hearing chief secretary Alok Kumar’s contention and said, “You are the government but you are not following the Constitution and law and you expect court to pass illegal order to allow such people to live in the country who are otherwise not entitled.” As per the Assam government, there are more than one lakh Bangladeshi migrants in the state and only 900, traced so far, have been living in different detention centres.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the state, informed the court that after holding consultation with the Centre, the government had decided to release ‘foreigners’ who had spent more than five years in detention centres on condition that they would report to police every week.
“First those people should not live in detention centres at all and they should be deported. You have detected only 900 out of more than one lakh people who were declared foreigners. They have now mingled with the local population and most of them are on the electoral list,” the bench observed.

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