Assam Foreigners’ Tribunals have 83,000 pending cases

Six detention centres are housing 425 people, government tells Assembly.

Updated - September 01, 2020 07:37 pm IST

Published - September 01, 2020 07:34 pm IST - GUWAHATI:

A file photo of people checking the final NRC list in Tezpur, Assam. PTI

A file photo of people checking the final NRC list in Tezpur, Assam. PTI

The State government said on Monday 83,008 cases of doubtful or D-voters were pending across the 100 Foreigners’ Tribunals (FTs) in Assam.

D-voters are a category of people struck off Assam’s electoral rolls by the Election Commission on suspicion of being foreigners. Their cases are referred to the FTs, which judge their citizenship.

1.13 lakh doubtful voters in Assam

To a question by Congress MLA Zakir Hussain Sikdar, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary told the 126-member House that the Sorbhog Assembly constituency in Barpeta district has the highest pending cases at 7,776.

Among the districts, Kamrup (Metro) covering much of Guwahati has the most such cases (6,406).

Delay in issuing rejection slips

Mr. Patowary said the government had appointed 221 former judges, retired bureaucrats and lawyers as members for heading 200 new FTs sanctioned. “The new tribunals have not been able to start working,” he said.

Apart from the coronavirus ( COVID-19 ) restrictions, they have not been functional because of the delay in issuing rejection slips to 19.06 lakh people excluded from the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC).

The complete NRC containing the names of 3.11 crore out of 3.3 crore applicants was published on August 31, 2019. The 19.06 lakh people were to have been issued rejection slips for approaching the FTs within 120 days for deciding the status of their citizenship.

The Assam government had in February said the State had 1.13 lakh D-voters. It also said 4,32,944 cases were registered against suspected foreigners between 1985 and 2019.

Cleanse voters’ list before Assam polls: NGO

“After verification and trials, 1,26,998 people were declared foreigners, 1,18,367 were found to be Indians and 29,890 were deported. At the last count, there were 1,13,738 D-voters,” Mr. Patowary had told the Assembly in February.

The D-voters who fail to establish their citizenship at the FTs are housed in six detention centres along with those declared foreigners by the same FTs on the basis of cases referred by the State police’s Border wing tasked specifically with detecting and detaining suspected foreigners.

The detention centres house 425 ‘foreigners’.

Officials said the cases against 83,008 of the 1.13 lakh D-voters detected earlier this year remain to be heard.

NRC re-verification

The Assam government also said it was firm on its demand of 10-20% re-verification of names included in the complete NRC.

Also read | Explained: What connects the NPR, NRIC and Census?

“We had given an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying there should be re-verification of 20% included names in the districts bordering Bangladesh and 10% in the rest of the districts. We need a re-verification because people of Assam want the correct NRC,” Mr. Patowary said.

He said 227 ‘foreigners’ have been deported from March 13, 2013 to July 31 this year.

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