Within a day of the issue being raised in Parliament, the Centre on Thursday told the Supreme Court that it was committed to deporting illegal Bangladeshi migrants, but only lawfully.

At the same time, it said the demand for identifying and deleting the names of alleged 41 lakh doubtful voters from the list of 2006 on the basis of religious and linguistic profiling would prima facie be illegal, arbitrary and violative of the secular and democratic credentials of India.

Additional Solicitor General Mohan Jain told a Bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and Ranjan Gogoi, hearing a public interest litigation petition filed by the Assam Public Works seeking a direction for deportation of illegal migrants, said the government of India, as a matter of policy, “does not support any kind of illegal migration either into its territory or illegal immigration of its citizens.”

As the Centre was taking all necessary steps, there was no need for passing any interim order, said Mr. Jain, who also sought dismissal of the petition. The Bench then posted the matter for final hearing on November 6.

The Centre, in its affidavit, said: “Bangladeshi infiltrators and those unauthorisedly overstaying after the expiry of their visa are to be deported… and such deportation of Bangladeshi nationals is, at present, carried out in accordance with the procedure laid down by the Central Government under the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and Rules and Orders made thereunder.”

It said: “Curbing illegal migration into the country is a priority since it has serious security, economic and societal ramifications. The Government of India has been issuing instructions from time to time to the State government/Union Territory Administration for selection and deportation of Bangladeshi nationals found to be staying in India unauthorisedly, and administrative instructions had also been issued from time to time [to the States/UTAs] to make concerted efforts to identify, detect and deport Bangladeshi nationals.”

Action was taken to implement all provisions of the Assam Accord, under which foreigners were divided into three categories: Those who came to the State before January 1, 1966; those who arrived between January 1, 1966 and March 24, 1971 and those who came on or after March 25, 1971.

The Centre said that after the Supreme Court struck down the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, measures to prevent infiltration and for speedy all-round economic development of Assam were taken. Tribunals and the Appellate Tribunal constituted under the IMDT Act ceased to function from July 2005.

These measures were of a continuous nature and, therefore, needed to be monitored regularly. Based on modalities received from the Assam government, the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules were amended for preparation of the National Registration of Citizens by updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC), 1951, in the State based on relevant records. Subsequently, pilot projects were stopped due to a law and order problem. A Cabinet sub committee set up by the State government to simplify the procedure for updating the NRC submitted its report.

The Centre said the Border Security Force was deployed along the international border to prevent the entry of illegal migrants.

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