Include ex-top bureaucrats for appointment to foreigners tribunals: SC

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NEW DELHI, May 30 (PTI): The Supreme Court Thursday told the Assam government to include retired bureaucrats, not below the rank of secretary and additional secretary and having judicial experience, for appointment as members of 200 additional foreigners tribunals which will be set up in the state.

A vacation bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Aniruddha Bose said the state will ensure that 200 additional foreigners tribunals are functional by September 1 this year.

The state government informed the bench that at present, 79 such tribunals are already functional.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Assam, told the bench that a meeting was held on May 24 in connection with selection of members and staffs for the proposed additional tribunals.He said that though there is a need for setting up 1,000 more foreigners tribunals in Assam, 200 such tribunals will be set up in the first phase.Mehta added that following the May 24 meeting, a letter has been addressed on May 29 to the registrar judicial of the Gauhati High Court with regard to the steps to be taken for appointment of members of the 200 tribunals.He also said the letter indicates the qualification and condition of service of the members to be appointed.

The bench was informed that retired judicial officers of district courts, advocates not above the age of 35 years with at least seven year practice and retired IAS officers can apply for the post of members of the tribunals. After conducting interviews, the result is scheduled to be declared by August 20.

“How a retired civil servant will be there in a quasi judicial tribunal? How retired IAS officers will do this?,” the bench sought to know.Mehta responded that retired IAS officers of secretary or additional secretary rank can be appointed as members of these tribunals as they get experience of conducting quasi judicial function.He said that they may not get requisite numbers of retired judicial officers of district courts and advocates, below the age of 35 years and having at least seven years practice, for appointment in the foreigners tribunals and the state has proposed this after consulting the high court.

“Who will do the selection?,” the bench asked. It was informed that selection will be done by the high court and it will entirely be through interviews.One of the advocates appearing in the matter told the court that retired judicial officers and lawyers would be sufficient to be appointed as members of these tribunals.

“Do not think in terms of 200, think it in terms of 1,000 tribunals,” the bench told the lawyer, adding that “it is a never before kind of situation where you need 200 members who can give orders which are sustainable in law”.

When the lawyer raised the issue of recruiting the staff for these 200 foreigners tribunals, the Solicitor General said the process for appointing staffs has already commenced. The top court had earlier directed the Assam government to place on record a detailed scheme, in consultation with the Gauhati High Court (on the administrative side), with regard to the setting up of foreigners’ tribunals including the appointment of members, staff etc.It had also asked the Assam government to work on the modalities of setting up around 1,000 foreigners’ tribunals for speedy disposal of cases related to illegal immigrants.

The state government had told the court that it was expecting rise in number of cases with claims of citizenship after the Assam National Register of Citizens (NRC) is published on July 31 and therefore more foreigners tribunals will be needed.

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