The Centre has told the Supreme Court that it is not possible to collect data on illegal migrants living in various parts of the country as the entry of foreign nationals is clandestine and surreptitious.
In its affidavit filed in the top court which is examining the constitutional validity of section 6A of the Citizenship Act relating to illegal immigrants in Assam, the Centre said 17,861 people have been granted citizenship under the provision.
Answering the court’s query posed on December 7, the Centre said 32,381 people have been detected as foreigners under the orders of the foreigner’s tribunal concerning the period of 1966-1971. Replying to the court’s query about the estimated inflow of illegal immigrants into India, including but not confined to Assam after March 25, 1971, the Centre said illegal immigrants enter the country without valid travel documents clandestinely and surreptitiously.
“The detection, detention and deportation of such illegally staying foreign nationals is a complex ongoing process. Since entry of such foreign nationals into the country is clandestine and surreptitious, it is not possible to collect accurate data of such illegal immigrants living in various parts of the country,” the Centre said.
The government said in the past five years from 2017 to 2022, 14,346 foreigners were deported.
Giving some figures, the Centre said 100 foreign tribunals are presently working in Assam and as of October 31, 2023, more than 3.34 lakh cases have been disposed of and still 97, 714 as of October 31.
It said the number of cases pending before the Gauhati High Court, arising from the orders of the Foreigners Tribunal is 8,461 as of December 1, 2023.
The government gave details about the working of the Assam Police, fencing of borders, border patrols and other mechanisms adopted to dissuade infiltration.
On December 7, the top court directed the Centre to provide data on the number of Bangladeshi immigrants granted Indian citizenship in Assam between January 1, 1966 and March 25, 1971.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, which is hearing a batch of pleas on the validity of section 6A of the Citizenship Act had asked the state government to provide the data to the Centre for filing an affidavit.
It had also asked the Centre to inform it about the steps taken to deal with illegal immigration into India, particularly the North Eastern states.
Section 6A of the Citizenship Act relates to illegal immigrants in Assam.
The provision was inserted into the Citizenship Act as a special provision to deal with the citizenship of people covered under the Assam Accord.
It says those who came to Assam on or after January 1, 1966, but before March 25, 1971, from specified territories, including Bangladesh, per the Citizenship Act amended in 1985, and since then are residents of the northeastern state, must register themselves under section 18 for acquiring Indian citizenship.
As a result, the provision fixes March 25, 1971, as the cut-off date for granting citizenship to Bangladeshi migrants in Assam.