89 Members of Assam Foreigners Tribunals move Supreme Court against dismissal from service

These members were appointed on a contractual basis pursuant to a Supreme Court direction passed on May 30, 2019, which called for establishment of additional Foreigners Tribunals.


The Supreme Court Friday, November 18, issued notice to the Assam government on a plea filed by 89 members of Foreigners Tribunals in Assam, challenging their discharge from service by the State of Assam [Pranab Bora vs Union of India].

All these members were appointed on contractual basis pursuant to a Supreme Court direction passed on May 30, 2019, which called for establishment of additional Foreigners Tribunals.

They were discharged by way of a notification dated October 14 which has noe been challenged before the top court.

It was a bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli that issued notice to the State of Assam and sought its response.

“We will issue notice. Serve it to the standing counsel of Assam,” the Court directed.

Foreigners Tribunal are a creature of executive order under tje Foreigners Act of 1946, a colonial legislation. They deal with cases of Indians arbitrarily declared foreigners, apart from some foreigners read illegal immigrants who may have entered from Bangladesh or have been residing in Assam without appropriate documents.

A total of 221 persons were appointed to Foreigners Tribunals in 2019 pursuant to the top court’s directions. 

The plea filed through advocate Kaushik Choudhury contended that the order issued by the Assam State discharging the petitions, is absolutely arbitrary, discriminatory and in complete violation to the fundamental rights of the petitioners under Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India.

During the hearing today, Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan informed the bench that around1 lakh such cases are pending in Assam 

“It is pertinent to mention that contrary to the stand of the respondents, petitioners were on the duty of deciding the Foreigners reference cases at the time of their forfeiture and as on date admittedly more than 1 lakhs …reference cases are pending in Assam,” stated the plea.

The petitioners further said that the State misclassified the service by misinterpreting the fact that their service was be decided only by/through the National Register of Citizen (NRC) related issues and, since the NRC is not yet published and rejection slips not yet issued, their service is forfeited.

It was also pointed out that there were other members previously appointed to Foreigners Tribunals on contractual basis though their service has been extended from time to time.

“While previous Tribunal Members were allowed to continue in their service as on date, the petitioners service was forfeited which apparently is discriminatory. The Government has put the petitioners in a different class merely because the appointment was made in view of the direction of this Hon’ble Court and without there being any valid reason and without even informing and taking leave of this Court,” the plea said.

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