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The Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983

The Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983 act was enacted on 25 December 1983 by Parliament on 34th Year of Republic of India and extends to whole of India but for State of Assam it is deemed to have come into force on 15 October 1983. An act established to know whether a person is an illegal migrant by a Tribunal and Central Government in a fair way to expel such illegal migrants from India and other matters related to it. An act passed to check the foreign illegal migrants in India and to provide necessary protection to citizens of India and detect foreigners in Assam.

This Act does not apply to persons who were expelled from any State or India before commencement of this Act, any one detected as foreigner near the border of India, or any foreigner who stayed back in India even after the expiry of valid passport.

Definitions for words like Appellate Tribunal, Foreigner, Illegal Migrant, Notification, Prescribed, and Tribunal are explained under Section 3 of the Act. Anything contained in Passport Act 1920, Foreigners Act 1946, Immigrants Act 1950 Passport Act 1967, does not affect the provisions of this Act but the provisions of Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act, 1950 will apply to all Illegal migrant.

Section 5 explains about establishment of Tribunals by Central Government as many as necessary and a member of the tribunal shall be aDistrict Judge of any State. Tribunal consists of 2 members and Central Government appoints 1 member as chairman.

Filling of vacancies in the office Tribunal or Chairman is done by Central Government by appointing anyone who fulfils the qualification to be a member of the Tribunal. Section 7 states that Central Government can appoint staff needed for the Tribunal to discharge its functions.

As per the references or application to Tribunals on the question of any person is illegal migrant or not under Foreigners Act 1946 is heard by Tribunal for deciding. No such application is entertained by Tribunal unless the applicant resides in the jurisdiction of same police station.

Such application shall also be accompanied by affidavits with a fee of not less than 10 rupees and not more than 100 rupees.  An application to the Central Government can be made by any person for decision by a Tribunal.  Powers of the Tribunal are explained under Section 9 of the Act and procedure with regard to references on the above sections are also stated in this Act.

Procedure with respect to references and applications to the Tribunal are dealt under Section 10 and 11 of the Act. While determining a person is illegal migrant or not Tribunal shall hear and order and decide as the case may be but if any unnecessary issues are put before Tribunal it shall not decide them. Any difference in members of Tribunal occur the President of Appellate Tribunal shall refer the case to another Tribunal. The order of Appellate Tribunal is final and it cannot be questioned in any court.

Any reference/application should be heard and should be disposed of within 6 months of such reference. Any person who is in reference/application can appeal to Appellate Tribunal against any order. Central Government establishes Appellate Tribunal by notification in every state where this Act is in force. Appellate Tribunal can confirm, modify, and annul the order appealed against.

Tribunal and Appellate Tribunal have the power to regulate its own procedure and proceedings will be judicial proceedings as per Indian Penal Code.

If any person has been determined by Tribunal or Appellate Tribunal as Illegal Migrant then the Central Government can remove that person from India or order in this regard for his/her removal from India. Superintendent of Police has the power to do so and also to obtain a bond from such person.

Delegation of powers, power to give effect to the orders, bar of jurisdiction of Civil Courts, Transitory provisions, penalties, protection of action taken in good faith, power to remove difficulties are also explained under the Act.  Central Government can make rules to carry out provision of the said Act.  The Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Ordinance has been repealed but anything done under the said Ordinance will be considered to have done under the said Act.

Supreme Court comprising of a 3 judge Bench in 2005 decision declared Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act 1983 as being ultravires of the Constitution. SC directed that Tribunals constituted under the Act also will cease to function as the Act is declared as unconstitutional.  Mr Narendra Modi’s has said in his speech “The government will utilise the India-Bangla land transfer agreement to seal all routes across the international border through which illegal Bangladeshi migrants have been entering Assam and creating havoc in the state.”

by Sushma Javare