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Detention centre for declared foreigners in Assam

  • IAS NEXT, Lucknow
  • 26, Oct 2021
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The Assam Government has overshot a 45-day deadline set by the Gauhati High Court for the completion of a standalone detention centre for declared foreigners.

What’s the issue?

The court had on August 11 asked the State Government to complete the construction of the detention centre, now called transit camp, at Matia in western Assam’s Goalpara district and file a status report within 45 days.

  • The Gauhati High Court had also sought the shifting of 177 inmates across six existing detention centres within as many central jails.

Who is a declared foreigner?

A declared foreigner, or DF, is a person marked by Foriegners Tribunal(FT) for allegedly failing to prove their citizenship after the State police’s Border wing marks him or her as an illegal immigrant.

  • People adjudged non-citizens are sent to detention centres.
  • Such people are tried after the Assam police’s Border wing serve them notice on suspicion of being foreigners.

What is a Foreigners tribunal?

Foreigners’ Tribunals are quasi-judicial bodies established as per the Foreigners’ Tribunal Order, 1964 and the Foreigners’ Act, 1946.

Composition: Advocates not below the age of 35 years of age with at least 7 years of practice (or) Retired Judicial Officers from the Assam Judicial Service (or) Retired IAS of ACS Officers (not below the rank of Secretary/Addl. Secretary) having experience in quasi-judicial works.

Who can setup these tribunals?

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has amended the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964, and has empowered district magistrates in all States and Union Territories to set up tribunals (quasi-judicial bodies) to decide whether a person staying illegally in India is a foreigner or not.

  • Earlier, the powers to constitute tribunals were vested only with the Centre.

Who can approach?

The amended order (Foreigners (Tribunal) Order, 2019) also empowers individuals to approach the Tribunals.

  • Earlier, only the State administration could move the Tribunal against a suspect.