Report No. 175
12. Views of the states and Union Territories
12.1 The Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, sought the views of State Governments and Union territory Administrations regarding the provisions of the Amendment Bill and their experience in the implementation of the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946, as also the difficulties encountered by them in the implementation process. For this purpose, the Ministry of Home Affairs addressed a questionnaire containing specific questions and called for the suggestions of the States and Union Territories. The questionnaire is appended at Anneuxre-II. The responses thereto are given in a tabulated form at Annexur-III.
12.2 The States and Union territory Administrations, in their responses, though favoured the amendment Bill, expressed the necessity of the amendment of other provisions of the of the Act for they encountered numerous difficulties in implementing its provisions and made following suggestions with respect to the Foreigners Act.
(i) A provision should be made to enable temporary detention of foreigners by immigration authorities pending finalization of their verification.
(ii) Offences should be classified and punishments accordingly prescribed. The harbouring of foreigners or aiding or assisting them in obtaining ration cards, driving licences and citizenship as also in undertaking illegal activity should be made an offence.
(iii) Any act under section 4(3)(a) of the Act should be regarded as an act of abetment. This section prohibits every person from knowingly assisting an internee or a person on parole to escape from custody or a place earmarked for his residence or knowingly harbouring such an internee or person.
(iv) Special cells should be established for the purpose of speedy investigation.
(v) All offences under the Act should be tried by courts of session. Special courts should be established to try offences under the Foreigners Act on a day to day basis, completing the trial within 90 days. Some of the States wanted time-bound trial by courts of session.
(vi) There should be summary trial of all offences.
(vii) Foreigners contravening the provisions of the Act or those entering clandestinely should not be granted bail to prevent them from absconding. No anticipatory bail should be granted to foreigners.
(viii) There should be a provision for the verification of sureties offered by foreigners. Sureties should deposit the amount of bail in the court.
(ix) Lawyers should be held accountable for obtaining bail on forged documents.
(x) Stringent punishments should be provided for entry without documents and with forged documents, for carrying fake currency notes and indulging in terrorist activity as also for the contravention of orders issued under section 3 of the Foreigners Act, espionage activities and acts endangering the security of State.
(xi) There should be a provision to seize the property purchased by foreigners directly or benami especially on conviction.
(xii) The term "whoever" in proposed section 143 should be qualified by the terms 'an Indian or foreigner' so that Indian nationals resorting to the abetment of offences may be punished.
(xiii) There should be an instant deportation after the completion of sentence by the foreigner-convict because, during the intervening period, surveillance is very difficult.
(xiv) There should be specie) fund to meet the expense on deportation in cases where aliens do not have enough money to go back to their countries. This will prevent their going underground.
(xv) Courts should not grant stay on 'notice to leave India' issued to foreigners by the competent authority.
(xvi) The Probation of offenders Act, 1958, should not be applicable to convict for offences under the Foreigners Act.
(xvii) The registration of tourists on arrival should be made compulsory. Currently, they are exempted from registration for a period of six months under the Registration of Foreigners Act 1939.
(xviii) Fine under section 5 of the Registration of Foreigners Act should be enhanced to Rs. 20,000 for foreigners and to Rs. 10,000 for Indians (The section provides imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year in case of foreigners).
12.3 Some States also expressed the need to strengthen the Passports Act, 1967, and suggested the following measures in this regard.
(i) Provision for Pre-verification of sponsors/referees before the grant of visa to foreigners.
(ii) Prohibition of granting of passport/visa to persons convicted under the Foreigners Act at least for five years.
(iii) Communication of Information regarding the issue of passport to a person to the District superintendent of Police.
(iv) Enhancement of punishment under the Pasports Act, 1967 on the lines of one prescribed in the proposed section 14A of the Foreigners (Amendment Bill), 1998.
(v) Enhancement of penalty under rule 6 of the Rules made under the Passports (Entry into India) Act, 1920.
12.4 The need to strengthen the citizenship Act was pointed out by a number of states and the Union Territory Administrations. It was suggested that foreigners who are convicted should not be granted Indian citizenship under any circumstances.