Citizens’ Rights Preservation Committee (CRPC) has questioned the functioning of Foreigners’ Tribunals (FT) in Assam after the Gauhati High Court set aside an order of the Tamulpur FT, declaring a man named Ranjit Sarkar as foreigner and ordering a fresh trial. 

“Citizens’ Rights Preservation Committee (CRPC) Assam has expressed its deep concern on the judgement of Gauhati High Court in the Case No. WP(C)/5348/2019, dated 12/08/2021, with regard to the Foreigners Tribunal case of Tamulpur, Baksa, against Sri Ranjit Sarkar who was declared a foreigner without proper judicial procedure,” a statement from CRPC read. 

President of CRPC – Nripendra Chandra Saha and general secretary – Bidhayak Das Purkayastha have said that the judgement of the Gauhati High Court has opened many “pandora boxes” about the functioning procedures of the Foreigners Tribunals in Assam. 

Bidhayak Das Purkayastha stated that the “learned counsel of Sri Ranjit Sarkar has drawn the attention of the jury members to the paragraphs 7, 9 and 10 of the order of the Foreigners Tribunal, which clearly indicate that the opinion perhaps had not been made after going through the normal judicial procedure required for rendering any definitive judicial determination”. 

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According to the judgement of the Tamulpur FT, the said paragraphs read as follows:  

“7. The proceedee/opposite party was not cross-examined at the time of my predecessor probably due to absence of Assistant Govt.Pleader.  

  1. My predecessor had heard the arguments of theproceedee/opposite party and fixed on 19/04/2018 for opinion. 
  2. Though after assuming office, I was supposed to re-hear the reference in appropriate cases but to avoid multiplicity and time consumption, I proceed to render my opinion in this case on the basis of the available materials on record which however is treated as incomplete and the scope of re-hearing may be availed by this Tribunal as and when it felt necessary.”

CRPC general secretary Bidhayak Das Purkayastha said that Gauhati High Court expressed shock at the observation of the Tamulpur Foreigners’ Tribunal, “especially Para 10”. 

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“The learned court expressed their shock and disbelief on how the Tribunal could render the opinion without hearing the parties again as the present Tribunal member is not aware of or having knowledge of the oral submissions given by the parties in the hearing held before his predecessor,” said the statement from CRPC. 

Purkayastha also said that the Gauhati High Court observed: “In any judicial proceeding, hearing the submission of the parties based on evidences on record can shape the counters of the evidence which would enable a party to clearly project his case. In the present case, this opportunity, unfortunately, was not made available to the parties before the Tribunal on the ground of avoiding multiplicity and saving time.” 

“After all submissions the learned high court set aside the impugned dated 11/07/2018 and remand the matter to the Foreigners Tribunal, Baksa, Tamulpur, for re-hearing and rendering a fresh opinion after hearing the parties,” the CRPC added. 

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Following the Gauhati High Court’s ruling, the CRPC said that the government should “monitor the functioning of Foreigners Tribunal Courts” and entrust the task of training the members of such courts under a panel of legal and constitutional experts of this country to “enhance their working skills and techniques”. 

The rights body also said that the government should form an association consisting of eminent people of the civic society to “assist in assuring justice to the people whose identity is at stake”. 

“The government should take utmost care in appointing Tribunal members so that they do not belong to any political affiliations,” the CRPC said. 

The rights’ body further said that the government should “immediately constitute ‘Special Lok Adalats’ in all district head-quarters and sub-divisions, arrange ‘Lok Adalats Weeks’ to dispose long pending foreigners’ cases within a stipulated period of time”. 

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The CRPC appealed the “law fraternity to provide unbiased and impartial judgements so that common people are not suppressed, oppressed and deprived”.  

“When people face identity crisis, their nationality is questionable, then they knock the doors of law for justice. This basic concept should be the guiding principle of sensible and responsible citizens of this country,” the CRPC said. 

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