The Assam government has restricted the Foreigners Tribunal from passing “consequential orders” as the members do not have the authority and can only make “opinion” on a case.
The Political (B) Department of the Assam government passed the order on September 4 after viewing with “seriousness the passing of consequential directions/orders by learned members while rendering opinion”.
The Political (B) Department deals with the Foreigners’ Tribunals (FTs), National Register of Citizens (NRC), official language implementation and state-level national Integration committee.
The deputy secretary of the department, Parijat Bhuyan, in her order said they came to this view after the state judicial department checked “randomly selected samples of opinions” rendered by FTs members during a “performance assessment exercise”.
“But consequential orders/directions have been issued, while giving opinion. This may not be a correct approach,” the order said.
The Foreigners Tribunals, quasi-judicial bodies unique to only Assam, are assigned to declare an individual foreigner or not and have the authority to provide an opinion regarding arrest, detention, deletion of names from voters’ list, cancellation of ration cards, etc.
A consequential direction on the other hand is an order generally provided by a court to which the government or the department concerned has to act upon. In an opinion, the government and the department concerned has the prerogative to decide on taking actions.
There have been several instances in which an FT’s ruling has overturned by the Gauhati High Court.
Assam has 100 Foreigners Tribunals under the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964.
According to a report, “Designed to Exclude” by Amnesty International, a London-based NGO, the Foreigners Tribunals have been alleged of making declaration on a person’s citizenship at an “arbitrary manner”.