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Supreme Court raps Assam chief secretary Alok Kumar for counter-NRC idea

State proposed to free foreigners after signing a bond and furnishing surety

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At a time when Assam's National Register of Citizens (NRC) is being updated to identify foreigners, the state made a blunder in the Supreme Court by proposing the release of declared foreigners. The state said it would release foreigners lodged in its detention centres on executing a bond and two sureties of Rs one lakh each by an Indian citizen.

Baffled by this response filed by chief secretary Alok Kumar in an affidavit, the Supreme Court lashed out at the state and Centre saying, "Your government has not been successful so far in deporting foreigners and now you propose that they stay in this country on executing a bond. And you expect the Court to be party to this."

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna threatened to initiate contempt proceedings against Kumar, who was present in the court. "You have no right to continue as Chief Secretary. We will initiate department inquiry against you," the court said.

The state admitted its mistake and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought permission to drop this portion from the affidavit. Kumar told the SC that the proposal was meant to be an arrangement to release detenues lodged in the six detention homes.

The SC said insisted on deportation of foreigners and asked Centre how many meetings were held by Border Management department. The Joint Secretary (Border Management) was summoned after lunch but the relevant minutes of meeting were missing. Upset by the non-cooperation, the SC adjourned the matter.

Both Assam and Centre came in the line of fire. The bench said, "Out of declared foreigner population of 1.12 lakh, some 900 odd are in detention homes. They have intermingled with local population and you are unable to detect them and now you say release those under detention, only to be lost again...Does the Chief Secretary understand what he is saying or is he signing on dotted lines. You are in serious trouble."

UNWELCOMED GUESTS

  • Affidavit spoke of releasing detenues who crossed 5 years as per 5-member panel's recommendations
     
  • At the time of release, they would supply a verifiable address and report once a week to the local police station, sign bond and furnish sureties
     
  • Police will store biometrics of released persons and submit quarterly report to the Foreigner Tribunals
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