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Question mark hangs over honesty of some FT members!

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People of suspected nationalities declared Indians without any opinion sheets

Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, July 1: Can there be an opinion from a member of a foreigner tribunal (FT) without any ‘opinion sheet? Former members of two FTs declared as many as 218 people of suspected nationalities as Indians. However, the records of the cases were without any opinion sheets.

There hangs a question mark over the honesty of a section of FT members in Assam with the recent revelations made by the Guahati High Court that as many as 218 people of suspected nationalities were declared Indians by two FTs without making any opinion sheets.

Assam has 100 FTs at present. Former members of the FT at Juria (fourth Nagaon FT) and the FT at Dhing (fifth Nagaon FT) declared all the 218 people of suspected nationalities – 188 of Juria FT and 30 of Dhing FT – as Indians during 2016 and 2017. However, after examination of the records of the two FTs issued by the former FT members the Gauhati High Court has revealed that the reports of the former members do not have any opinion sheets attached to them. “We find from the report that in 188 references of Foreigners Tribunal 4th, Nagaon at Juria, the then Member, Sri A.K. Sarma had shown the references to be disposed of on various dates with notings that opinions in separate sheet would follow. But on scrutiny of the case records, no such opinions were found,” the court of Justice Ujjal Bhuyan said in its order issued in June this year.

The moot point is: the responsibility of detecting foreigners staying illegally in Assam lies with the 100 FTs set up in the State spending crores of rupees, besides the Border Police and other related departments. The faith on the court in India is: the people can rest assured that they are going to get a fair deal whenever the court is involved. However, these 218 opinions given by the former members of the two FTs have made a big question mark hanging over the honesty of a section of FT members. What has happened in the two FTs is certainly not in the interest of the State and its people. This has been reflected in the statement made by the High Court Bench that “we express our disappointment over the way the member conducted himself. This was not expected. In the ordinary course this would have called for some action, disciplinary or otherwise, but we have been informed that his services had not been extended and he is no longer a Member of Foreigners Tribunal. We leave it at that.”

The High Court has set aside the opinions of two FTs and ordered issuance of fresh notices to the 218 people, who were declared Indians by the two FTs, for fresh trial.