Supreme Court frowns on Foreigners’ Tribunals plan

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    17th May, 2019


Recently, the Supreme Court questioned a proposal by the Assam government to quickly open 1,000 foreigners’ tribunals all over the north-eastern State to try suspected illegal immigrants.


  • The Supreme Court has questioned the feasibility of setting up such foreigner’s tribunals and appointed judicial officers to preside over them.
  • The CJI hinted at the possible flood of petitions which would hit the foreigners’ tribunals once the final NRC was published on July 31. These petitions would be from people who had not been able to prove their Indian citizenship.

Foreigners Tribunal (FT)

  • FT was set up in Assam in 1964 through the Foreigners Tribunal Order 1964. The tribunals are mandated with identifying the legal status of suspected foreigners in Assam.
  • At present, there are 100 FTs in Assam; of these 64 were set up in 2015, to expedite the exercise of determining illegal immigrants in the state through the NRC.


  • The Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act was an Act of the Parliament of India enacted in 1983 by the Indira Gandhi government. It was struck down by the Supreme Court of India in 2005 in Sarbananda Sonowal v. Union of India known as the IMDT Act.
  • Assam also had Illegal Migrants Determination Tribunal which was established in 1985 under the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) (IMDT) Act, 1983. This tribunal only considered the cases of those who had allegedly entered India after March 25, 1971.
  • IMDT Act was enacted to put forward the procedures to detect illegal immigrants (from Bangladesh) and expel them from Assam.

     National Register of Citizens (NRC):
    It is a register which contains the name of all citizens of India residing in Assam. The process of NRC update in Assam has been taken up as per a Supreme Court order in 2013.


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