Daily News Analysis

Foreigners Tribunal

14th September, 2021 Polity

Figure 1: No Copyright Infringement Intended

Context:

  • The Assam government has directed the Foreigners’ Tribunals (FTs) — which adjudicate citizenship in the state — to stick to giving “opinion” on a person’s nationality, and refrain from passing any “consequential orders.”

Details of the Order:

  • In ‘consequential orders’, the courts can direct government departments to take action, while in an ‘opinion, the government decides what action needs to be taken.
  • The sole purpose of the FTs — which are quasi-judicial forums — is to give an opinion whether someone is a foreigner or an Indian. After that the state’s executive agencies take consequential action accordingly.
  • The Judicial Department has noted that consequential orders for “deletion of names from voter list, arrest, detention and deportation of the declared foreigners” had been passed.

 

About Foreigner’s Tribunal (FT):

  • They are quasi-judicial bodies meant to “furnish opinion on the question as to whether a person is or is not a foreigner within the meaning of Foreigners Act, 1946”.
  • In 1964, the Centre passed the Foreigners’ (Tribunals) Order under provisions of Section 3 of the Act.
  • The FTs get two kinds of cases: those against whom a “reference” has been made by border police, and those whose names in the electoral rolls have a D (Doubtful) against them.
  • Section 9 of the Foreigners Act says that “the onus of proving that such person is not a foreigner or is not a foreigner lies on the person.

 

Foreigners Tribunal Member

  • Each FT member is appointed under the Foreigners Tribunal Act, 1941, and Foreigners Tribunal Order, 1984, as per the guidelines issued by the government from time to time.
  • A member can be a retired judicial officer of the Assam Judicial Service, a retired civil servant not below the rank of secretary and additional secretary with judicial experience, or a practising advocate not below the age of 35 years and with at least seven years of practice.
  • A member is also required to have a fair knowledge of the official languages of Assam (Assamese, Bengali, Bodo and English) as well as be conversant with the historical background to the foreigners’ issue.