GOALPARA, Oct 2 – The Foreigners Tribunal of Sibsagar has been relocated and notified as Foreigner’s Tribunal 2nd, Goalpara by an order No. PLB.230/2011/16 dated 12th Aug., 2012 in pursuance of Government of India’s letter no. 11012/48/2005/NE-IV dated 18/05/12. This is a significant step coming at a time when the foreigner’s issue once has again taken the centre stage of Assam politics and the lone tribunal can now get some respite as the cases before it have been piling up consistently making it difficult for the overworked tribunal judge to dispose of cases within a stipulated time.
According to the latest official figures available, from 1999 to 2012, a total of 19,776 cases have been registered in the tribunal with the highest being in the year 2007 with 1317 cases. Out of the total pending 17,319 cases, 7761 cases have been categorised under D voters and the rest 10186 being referred by the Police department.
The total number of cases disposed so far, are 2,457 till July 31, 2012 with 112 cases pending before the High Court and about 800 (approx) have been declared foreigners, mostly declared ex parte as these suspected illegal immigrants failed to submit relevant documents before the tribunal within a stipulated period, but this correspondent has come to know from a police source that they have all gone missing and remained untraceable soon after they had been served notices by the tribunal making a mockery of the entire system of detecting and deporting foreign nationals and virtually giving these illegal immigrants a free run to move around in the State as well in the other parts of the country without valid documents. However, only 35 illegal immigrants have been pushed back till date and this dismal statistics does not augur well in context of the foreigner’s issue at hand.
Meanwhile, talking to this correspondent, Nakul Chandra Dutta, retired judge and member secretary, Foreigner’s Tribunal, Goalpara while welcoming the 2nd tribunal said that no details are available as to when and where the 2nd tribunal will start to function. Although overworked, but carrying out his duties passionately and with zeal, he said that 81 cases were disposed of last month and pointed out that not a single person was declared a foreigner between 1983 and 2008. During his tenure (from mid 2007) as many as 2,457 cases have been disposed of by the tribunal. But he is sceptical on the recent amendments in disposing of a case by the tribunal within the stipulated period of 60 days as disposing of a case involves a gruelling and tedious process unless it is declared ex parte and going by simple calculations, a Foreigner’s Tribunal can dispose of say 720 cases (60 cases x 12) per year making it much more difficult to clear the entire backlog. According to a lawyer, many innocent people whose cases are pending before the tribunal are harassed, depriving them of their freedom and other human rights accorded to its citizens by the Indian Constitution.