Assam dragging its feet on illegal Bangladeshi migrants: Supreme Court

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015,19:34 IST By metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi | The Supreme Court today slammed the Assam Government for dragging its feet and rejected its vague and highly unsatisfactory affidavit on the steps taken regarding the influx of illegal Bangladesh nationals through the porous Indo-Bangla border in the state.
The apex court expressed displeasure over the conduct of the state government and questioned its seriousness in taking steps to comply with its December 17 directions. The affidavit of Assam Government is highly unsatisfactory. It is not only vague but the officer has no exposure to ground reality.
We refuse to accept the affidavit. We are expressing displeasure over the conduct of the state government, a bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R F Nariman said. The bench directed the Chief Secretary to file a meaningful affidavit within a week on the steps taken in pursuant to its December 17, 2014 order.
The bench said the failure to file a proper affidavit would lead to calling of the state’s chief secretary for explanation. It also directed the Assam Government to apprise it about the steps taken to comply with its direction to meet the deadline of January 2016 for updating of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
At the outset, the bench expressed its anguish over the affidavit filed by a junior official and asked does he know anything what is going on? See the seriousness with which this matter is treated, it said adding that shall we call this man and ask what is there in the affidavit? Does he know what is there? The bench was also at pain to say that despite assurances 500 police units and task force to detect illegal migrants have not been activated within a month.
Affidavit says that steps taken for constitution of 500 units of task force, but they are not yet in place, the bench observed, noting that three months have passed since the judgement was delivered with a slew of directions both for the state and the Centre.
The fact has been that you have dragged your feet. We will say your affidavit is highly unsatisfactory worth not accepting. We will call your chief secretary. This is not the way. You have dragged your feet for years and years and still dragging, the bench observed during the hearing.
The anguished bench also asked the Centre to place on record the steps taken by it to comply with various directions like fencing of border,border patrolling and night patrolling. The bench said the Centre would specifically spell out the scheme for deportation of illegal migrants and posted the matter after two weeks.
The court had earlier asked the Centre to detect and deport all illegal migrants who have come to Assam after March 25, 1971. It, however, had said that the foreigners, who came to India between Jannuary 1, 1966 to March 24, 1971, be awarded citizenship as per law.
The apex court on December 17 last had directed the Centre to complete fencing work along the Indo-Bangla border within three months to check cross-border influx of illegal Bangladesh nationals into Assam and streamline the process to deport them back. It had also asked the Centre to hold discussions with the Bangladesh government for ensuring that illegal migrants be sent back and passed a slew of directions in this regard.
We are at a loss to understand why 67 years after Independence, the eastern border is left porous, it had said adding, We have been reliably informed that the entire western border with Pakistan being 3300-kms-long, is not only properly fenced but properly manned as well and is not porous at any point.
The bench had directed the Centre to take all effective steps to complete the fencing (double-coiled wire fencing) in such parts/portions of the Indo-Bangla border (including Assam) where presently the fencing is yet to be completed to prevent illegal access to the country from Bangladesh.
The bench had also said that vigil along the riverine boundary should be effectively maintained by continuous patrolling. Such part of the international border which has been perceived to be inhospitable on account of the difficult terrain will be patrolled and monitored at vulnerable points that could provide means of illegal entry.
The apex court had also directed that motorable roads alongside the international border, wherever incomplete or have not yet been built, should be laid so as to enable effective and intensive patrolling. Taking note of the existing mechanism for deportation and international protocol, it had directed the Centre to enter into necessary discussions with Bangladesh government to streamline the procedure of deportation.
The apex court verdict had come on the pleas of Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha, Assam Public Works and All Assam Ahom Association filed in the aftermath of large-scale riots in the year 2012 and in 2014 in Assam resulting in several deaths.
In their writ petition, the petitioners had said that the sovereignty and integrity of India was itself at stake as a massive influx of illegal migrants from a neighbouring country had affected the core constitutional value.