15 Jan :The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed displeasure that government was not taking effective steps to flush out illegal Bangladeshi migrants causing threat to national security.The apex court was annoyed over the tardy progress in the implementation of its directions given in a judgement in 2005 while scrapping the Illegal Migrant (Determination by Tribunal) Act."This is a serious matter concerning the security of the nation and the Centre should take effective steps," a Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan observed.
The apex court, which four years ago, had ruled that the Centre failed in its duty to protect Assam from "external aggression" due to continuance of the IMDT Act, was annoyed that little progress was made on the government decision to issue Multi-purpose National Citizen Card (MPNCC).
It directed the Centre to apprise it, in two months, of the steps taken by it on the implementation of the decision on MPNCC and for maintenance of National Identification Register.
Further, the Bench sought a status report on the fencing of 4,300 km porus Indo-Bangladesh border which the Centre in 2006 said would be complete by 2007.
The apex court, while terming the IMDT Act as "unconstituional" had directed that all cases pending before it would be transferred to tribunals under the Foreigners Act.
Reminding the Centre of its directions, the Bench, also comprising Justices P Sathasivam and J M Panchal, sought details from it about the tribunals set up under the Act after the 2005 verdict to identify illegal Bangladeshi migrants.
It said that the Centre will have to give the data as to how many illegal migrants from Assam and other parts of the country, including other north eastern states, have been deported after their identification by the tribunals
The directions were passed during the hearing of the PIL filed in 1998 by All India Lawyers Forum for Civil Liberties and later in 2004 by an NGO, Image India Foundation, alleging that unchecked influx of Bangladeshis was not only a threat to the national security but was also adversely affecting the demography of north eastern states.
Further, the illegal migrant ion was adversely affecting on the infrastructure facilities, the petitioners alleged.
Advocate O P Saxena, appearing for the lawyers’ body, said that not much progress has been made on the issue of the MPNCC and the fencing of the border after the Centre had filed a status report in 2006.
He said when the petition was filed 10 years ago, the population of illegal Bangladeshi migrants was one crore which now has crossed two crore.
Senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for West Bengal, said efforts were made to deport suspected Bangladeshis but the authorities of the neighboring country refused to accept them compelling the state government to put illegal migrants in transit camps at huge expense.
Additional Solicitor General Amarender Sharan said he would apprise the court about the exact situation and sought two months’ time which was granted.
The apex court had struck down the IMDT Act on a petition filed by the Asom Gana Parishad leader Sarbanand Sonowal.
It had said the law on illegal migrants enacted by the Centre for Assam "negated the mandate" of Article 355 of the Constitution casting a duty upon it to protect every state against external aggression and internal disturbance.
The apex court had said that the influx of Bangladeshi nationals into Assam posed a threat to the integrity and security of the north-east region.