1. Last eligible ‘foreigner’ freed from detention

  • Who is a declared foreigner?

  • Why such measures are necessary?

  • What is a Foreigners tribunal?

  • Who can setup these tribunals?

UPSC Can list these Questions under

GS paper 2 (Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.)

What is the context about?

Siddeque Ali has become the last declared foreigner to be released from the only detention centre in Barak Valley in Assam as the beneficiary of a Supreme Court order.

What has the Court said?

  • In April this year, amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Supreme Court had directed the release of those detainees who were declared foreigners and have been lodged in the detention centres of Assam for two years or more.
  • The Court had also lowered the personal bond amount from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5,000.
  • So far, 339 DFs have been released from the detention centres since April 13.

Who is a declared foreigner?

A declared foreigner, or DF, is a person marked by any of the 100 Foreigners’ Tribunals (FTs) in Assam for allegedly failing to prove their citizenship after the State police’s Border wing marks him or her as an illegal immigrant.

Why such measures are necessary?

  • There are a total of 802 declared foreigners in various detention centres of Assam.
  • Some people are declared foreigners on account of poor documentation or poor legal assistance and lack of resources. They have not been able to prove they are Indian citizens.
  • Some are either too poor to pursue their cases in higher courts or have their appeals turned down.

What is a Foreigners tribunal?

  • In 1964, the govt brought in the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order.
  • 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.