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FT orders missing from record

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Gauhati HC expresses dismay over conduct of Foreigners’ Tribunal member

Several orders of a Foreigners’ Tribunal in central Assam declaring some people as non-citizens have been found missing from record, a recent order of the Gauhati High Court has revealed.

FT Number 4 in Morigaon district had declared 282 people foreigners from 2015 to 2017. But judgments were “not found in record” in 11 of these orders. And while there was “mismatch between judgment copy with order sheet” in six cases, five orders were found to have had “dual judgment”.

Discrepancies in FT

The discrepancies in FT 4 had come to light when a member (tribunal head) had on April 23, 2018, written to the State’s Home Secretary about “detailed opinions” signed by his predecessor “not available” for 288 “case records”. A copy was marked to the Registrar (Judicial) of the Gauhati High Court.

The number of such cases was later trimmed to 282 as six cases were found to have been repeated.

After a scrutiny of 50 cases seized by the Assam Police Border Organisation — it is tasked with identifying foreigners — it was found that 13 persons tried by the FT had been declared as Indians and judgments in the remaining 37 cases were found to be “correct in all respects”. Anomalies were detected in 57 of the remaining 232 cases.

‘No order’

Based on the findings, the High Court ruled that disposing of cases “without a reasoned opinion/ absence of judgment copy/ dual judgment/ without vacating earlier order in the case file would be no order in the eye of law. Such a noting or order cannot be construed to be an order disposing of a reference case by a Foreigners’ Tribunal”.

The court of Justice Manojit Bhuyan and Justice Kalyan Rai Surana further noted in its September 19 order: “There has to be an opinion on record which must carry the seal and signature of the presiding officer of the tribunal. In the absence thereof, such a reference will have to be treated as not being disposed of and be considered as a pending reference, which would have to be heard afresh.”

The court also expressed disappointment “over the way the member conducted himself”. It added: “This was not expected. In the ordinary course, this would have called for some action, disciplinary or otherwise. We leave it at that.”

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 11:20:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/ft-orders-missing-from-record/article29545071.ece

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