BY: -Pragya Yadav
In July 2008, Justice BK Sharma of the Guwahati High Court ordered the eviction of around 50 Bangladeshi nationals for acquiring Indian citizenship through the means of fraud. In his judgment Justice Sharma observed, “It is no longer a secret that illegal Bangladeshis have intruded every nook and corner of Assam, including forest land. They have become kingmakers in Assam.” The constant demand from the opposition for action coerced the congress government to make tough decision against the Bangladeshi immigrants. Throughout the year of 2008 and the beginning of 2009, a series of bombings broke out in parts of Assam with various casualties as the result. This led to a mounting of pressure for detention camps to host the illegal immigrants. The then Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi assured the citizen by introducing permanent resident cards to filter out the illegal immigrants residing in the State. In the year of 2010, three detention camps were set up in the areas of Goalpara, Silchar and Kokrajhar. Later these detention camps were also organised in three other areas of Assam, namely, Tezpur, Jorhat and Dibrugarh. By the mid of 2011, around 362 illegal immigrants were sent to the detention camps. In today’s time there are six detention camps in Assam which are set up in the jails of various districts of Assam.
CURRENT ISSUE :
In 2019, the final list of the NRC was released in Assam by the Government in which more than 19 million people were exclude. Around 3.29 crore people applied for the NRC and only 3.11 were able to make it to this list. The people who did not make it to the final list may file their appeal before the foreigner’s tribunal (FT) and subsequently before High Court and Supreme Court. On the other hand the BJP government in Assam has already ruled out the detention of the people who did not make the list till the foreigner’s tribunal doesn’t declare them as foreigners. The Government has given the people excluded from the list the time period of 120 days to file an appeal before the court. The consequences of failing case before the foreigner’s court, as well as higher courts may include possible arrest and being sent to the detention camps. Assam currently has six detention camps set up and the Government has proposed the construction of seventh detention camp with the hosting capacity of 30,000. However, as the number of illegal immigrants is in lakhs the detention camps will not prove to be sufficient in terms of housing the illegal immigrants. In this current scenario people may either be deported or be officially entitled as non-citizens.
QUESTION OF LAW :
A petition was filed before the Supreme Court by the senior lawyer Aparna Bhat, for the NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace, representing the case of 60 children who were not included in the NRC of Assam. Despite the fact the documents of these children were shown and the names of their parents were also present, the names of these children were still not present in the final NRC list. The question presented by Ms. Bhat before the court in this case was whether these children will be sent to the detention centres. The NGO submitted that the NRC had identified “specified categories of already marginalised persons” who had been excluded. This included children who were excluded even after showing their documents and their parent’s name being present in the list, orphaned children who were not residing under any State orphan homes, children who were disconnected from their families and resided with close relatives and parents whose names were excluded but their children names were included. The Supreme Court regarded this as a serious matter and ordered that the children who were excluded from the NRC list of Assam but their parents/guardians/caregivers are included in this list will not be sent to the detention camps.
There are six detention centres set up in Assam and Government has proposed the plan for the seventh detention centre. These detention centres are set up to host the illegal immigrants who obtained the Indian citizenship fraudulently. With the release of the final NRC list, there are around 19.06 million people who are excluded from it. The future of these 19.06 million people is either detainment, deportation or being officially entitled as non-citizens. But since there only six working detention centres it is not possible to detain all 19.06 million people. The people who have been excluded from the NRC(National Register of Citizens) also have the option to file an appeal before a Foreigner’s Court or subsequently High Court and Supreme Court within 120 days. While this gives people another chance to avoid being declared as foreigners, but as the appeal period is short and too many cases, it will also burden the Court and get exhaustive. The NRC(National Register of Citizens ) list also excluded the children whose parents name is included in it but the Supreme Court had ordered that these children will not be sent to the detention centres as long as their parents/guardians/caregivers are included in the NRC list.