BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, May 13: Observing that the Central and State governments were “dragging their feet” on the cross border influx issue, the Supreme Court on Wednesday appointed a senior lawyer as a court commissioner to inspect the progress of the fencing work at the Indo-Bangladesh border.
A bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice N Fali riman expressed dissatisfaction over the sloppy progress of the fencing work and felt that both the Government of India and Assam were dragging their feet on the problem of illegal migration.
The bench was hearing a bunch of petitions by Assam Public Works, Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha and All Assam Ahom Association.
“We have seen your (Ministry of Home Affairs) counter (affidavit) and the State’s counter and we are left with the impression that both the Union of India and the State are dragging their feet,” the bench observed.
“The court appointed senior Supreme Court advocate Upamanyu Hazarika as the court commissioner to visit the India-Bangladesh border, mainly the Assam part, to physically verify the fencing and security across the Indo-Bangla border and file a fil report by June 30. The court ordered the Government of India to grant Rs 5 lakh for the exercise,” APW counsel Arvind Kumar Sharma said.
The commission will visit the border and inspect the status regarding border fencing, flood lighting etc and file an initial report within three weeks. “The commission has been directed to file a fil report by June 30,” Sharma said.
The bench also expressed dissatisfaction over non-selection of the presiding officers and members of the 64 tribuls, sanctioned by the Centre which would taken up the issue of citizenship of migrants, by the Gauhati High Court. The bench directed the High Court to prepare the list of presiding officers and members of tribul within 45 days. The Government of Assam will have to improve infrastructure and appoint all supporting staffs etc within August 18 next, the SC bench said. On the issue of updating of the tiol Register for Citizenship (NRC), the NRC Coorditor informed the bench that he had written to the MHA and the Registrar General of India seeking their responses on certain anomalies in the law on the issue of citizenship. “The queries had been made in February and unfortutely, they have not been responded to,” the bench said, asking the MHA and the Registrar General of India to file their responses on July 14.
Meanwhile, NRC coorditor Prateek Hazela will do the initial work of the NRC update process like form distribution, data collection, documentation etc till further orders by court.
The apex court will take up the case again on July 14.
In an immediate reaction following the SC order, Assam Public Works president Aabhijeet Sharma said it was unfortute that even after so many orders and rulings by various courts, the governments at the Centre and State are not serious about the illegal migration problem.
“Now the court will monitor the steps and has appointed a commission to visit the Indo-Bangladesh border. Hope this time the border will be sealed and this burning problem will be solved,” Sharma added.
Sharma also said documents like ration cards, passports etc should not be used as supporting documents in the NRC update exercise as these documents can be easily obtained through fraudulent means. “We are going to raise this issue in the Supreme Court in the next hearing,” he added.