Coming down heavily on the Assam government over the functioning of Foreigners’ Tribunals, the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked why there were only around 900 inmates in detention centres when the state has admitted that the tribunals declared over 58,000 as foreigners so far.
“This has gone too far. This has become a joke. We are not even being told these are then number of cases referred (to the tribunals) or declared (as foreigners) by the tribunal,” a bench, including Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, said as Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought time to file an affidavit in the matter.
“Where have all the foreigners gone? Is your tribunal functioning… or is it the law and order machinery that is not functioning?” the bench asked.
The apex court is hearing a petition by activist Harsh Mander against the dismal living conditions in the detentions centres. The plea alleges that inmates were kept in detention indefinitely just because they were not Indians and were treated as “illegal aliens”.
The court warned that it may seek the personal presence of the state Chief Secretary and Home Secretary to explain the position. The court will next hear the matter on March 27.