All desks have been cleared for setting up of 200 Additional Foreigners Tribunals (FTs) in all 33 districts across Assam. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has also approved the State government’s suggestions that the currently existing 100 FTs transfer some of the pending 1.50 lakh cases to the upcoming additional FTs.
The information was made public in reply to a question regarding the number of existing foreigner tribunals and the number of additional foreigner tribunals posed in the Rajya Sabha by Vandana Chavan from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and answered by G Kishan Reddy, MoS for Home.
The 200 additional FTs that have been proposed will deal with the appeals of those people whose names were left out of the final NRC which was published on August 31, 2019. The people whose names do not appear in the final NRC list will only have 120 days after receiving the respective ‘Rejection Orders’ from the NRC authorities to file their appeals. To date, seven months after the final list was published on August 31, 2019, those excluded have not yet been served the “reasons for rejections” by the NRC authorities. This has resulted in not just high anxiety and concern but worries about tampering etc since a month ago there was also the question of all NRC data ‘disappearing’ for a few days until MHA first, and WIPRO second clarified that non-payment for services was the reason for the data not being visible online.
The Assam government’s Home and Political Department has notified that the locations assigned to 200 members of these additional FTs will be issued by the end of March and that these FTs will become functional by the end of April or May this year. The department has also instructed the Deputy Commissioners to ensure that the buildings for these additional FTs are ready before the proposed deadline.
Besides the member, each additional FT will have 10 staffers. The total staffers in all the new 200 tribunals will approximately be 2,000. The appointments of 1,600 candidates who have already been selected for various posts will be done in April 2020 and another 400 staffers will be deployed by the Home Guards.
Before the final NRC was published, the MHA had approved “in principle” the setting up 1,000 additional FTs in a phased manner to dispose of the cases found eligible for the final NRC. Four hundred FTs were to be established in the first phase, of which 200 were to be set up initially’ post this additional FTs were to be established in subsequently.
To facilitate this process, the state government has formed an Electronic Foreigners Tribunal Mission Directorate (e-FTMD). On September 11, 2019, the Home and Political department appointed 221 members for a year-long term for the new 200 new additional FTs and for the 21 vacant posts in the existing 100 FTs.
While the FT members have been drawing regular salaries since the date of their appointment, Dispur hasn’t been able to allot any work to the newly appointed FT members because the NRC authorities haven’t issued any rejection letters since more than six months of the publication of the final NRC. It is against this backdrop, that Dispur had sought Centre’s permission to make the 200 Additional FTs functional.
The government notification with the names of candidates may be viewed below.