New Delhi, Aug. 9: The Union government today told the Supreme Court that Bangladeshi migrants in Assam would be deported only after following the due process of law, on a day the BJP castigated the government in the Rajya Sabha on its failure to control illegal migration.
The government also said that all electoral rolls in Assam post-2005 were accurate and authentic, discounting doubts raised by an Assam-based NGO about the rolls being filled with Bangladeshi migrants who had entered the state after March 25, 1971.
"The electoral roll figures from 2005 are accurate and authentic. Any so-called abnormal growth in the rolls does not imply that the rolls contain the names of illegal Bangladeshi migrants…," the Centre said in an affidavit filed in the top court through home ministry deputy secretary Ajay Kanoujia.
The Centre, instead, attributed the so-called abnormal growth to the Election Commission's intensive efforts to enrol voters. The government also shot down a demand to identify and delete "doubtful voters" from the 2006 voter list on the basis of religious and linguistic profiling, saying it was "prima facie illegal, arbitrary and violative of the secular and democratic fabric of India."
"The Union of India, as a matter of policy, does not support any kind of illegal migration either into its territory or illegal immigration of its citizens to foreign countries. Curbing illegal migration into the country is a priority since it has serious security, economic and societal ramifications," the affidavit said.
Towards this end, the Centre has been implementing several provisions of the Assam Accord which focuses on the all-round economic development of the state and preventing infiltration.
Highlighting the efforts made by the Centre to implement the Assam Accord and to identify foreigners, the affidavit said all those who came to Assam prior to January 1, 1966, were to be treated as full-fledged citizens.
Those who came between January 1, 1966 and March 24, 1971, would be deleted from the voter list if they were found to have been included for a period of 10 years. After that they would be eligible to register for Indian citizenship.
Only those who entered India after March 25, 1971 would be identified and deported, the Union government said, adding that 36 tribunals had been set up in the state to facilitate the identification of foreigners.
The affidavit came as a reply to a court notice on a petition filed by Assam Public Works seeking court intervention to weed out all foreigners from the state.
It sought court intervention to have all pre-March 25, 1971 migrants whose citizenship were regularised and all post-March 25, 1971 foreigners in the state identified before the National Register of Citizens (NRC), 1951, could be updated.
It also sought identification of "indigenous" Indians as opposed to "naturalised" Indians. The government dismissed this suggestion saying it would create a "cleavage in society" and would be against the Constitution to have two kinds of citizenship. The government also rejected the NGO's allegations about the 2006 electoral rolls having an excess of 41 lakh doubtful voters over the 2004 rolls as mere "generalisation".
"…no specific evidence in support of enrolment of illegal immigrants in the voter list has been provided. It is open to anyone under the existing system of revision of rolls to file objections against the names of any existing elector in the rolls," the Centre said.
The government claimed that doubtful voters were being identified since the intensive roll revision of 1997 when those who could not prove their nationality were listed under the "D" category and were not allowed to either vote or contest elections.
The Centre decided in 2005 to update the NRC within two years. The government began the exercise of updating the NRC on the basis of the 1971 rolls, including all those who could trace their ancestry back to the 1971 rolls. But it was discontinued after introduction in Kamrup and Barpata districts following law and order problems. But a state cabinet sub-committee has since given its recommendations on the guidelines to be followed for updating it and this was under consideration by the state, the affidavit said.
The NGO has among other things alleged that the 2011 election was full of "excess" voters who gave the pro-immigration All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) 18 seats in the 126-member Assam Assembly. This represents 15 per cent seats in the state.
The AIUDF has also contested another 61 seats, which it lost marginally. If this trend continues, the NGO claimed, by 2012, the party will be in a dominant position and will control state politics. The AIUDF polled 17 lakh votes in the 2011 elections, the NGO claimed. "It is clear that the party represents the post-71 illegal Bangaldeshis residing in Assam," it added.