Report No. 175
After considering the provisions of the existing legislations on the subject, we are of the considered view that the problem of illegal migration from neighbouring countries has to be tackled seriously by providing a machinery for effective and speedy detection of illegal entrants in the statute. In order to concretise our recommendations, we have drafted the Foreigners (Amendment) Bill, 2000 (Annexed as Annexure-I) to amend the Foreigners Act, 1946 by incorporating proposed provisions in the Foreigners Act, 1946. The radical proposals reflected in the Bill are as follows:
(i) The long title of the Bill provides for the regulation of entry into, stay in and departure from, India of foreigners and also to prevent their illegal migration from neibouring countries and for matters connected therewith, incidental or ancillary thereto.
(ii) We propose to include various definitions, the important among them are 'foreigner', 'citizen of India', 'removal order' and 'deportation order'.
(iii) We have specifically included the definition of the term 'illegal entrant' in the definition clause so as to make it more explicit as to how a foreigner who entered into India is an illegal entrant.
(iv) A new definition has been included to define 'inadmissible class' which enlist the inadmissbile classes of foreigners who are barred entry into India. Such classes are also enlisted in the immigration laws of other countries.
(v) Specific clause has been included in the Bill empowering the immigration officer to refuse permission to enter India if he belongs to an inadmissible class or fails to produce a valid passport or valid travel documents or is not able to establilsh his identity or nationality. This provision will enable the authorities at the entry point or port of entry to immediately deport the concerned foreigner, thereby avoiding the need to decide whether a foreigner is an illegal entrant or not through the processes of law.
(vi) In order to curb the menace of illegal immigration, violations of conditions of visa, etc., by a foreigner, we recommend for establishing a machinery consisting of Chief Immigration Officer and immigration officers to be appointed by the Central Government at the grass roots level which can speedily and promptly decide and act on the issues related to the subject. Firstly, at the entry point, immigration officers are proposed to be empowered to examine foreigners seeking entry into India. Such examination would include whether a person possess passports or travel documents, whether he belongs to a inadmissilble class.
If he is not in posession of such valid documents, the immigration officer is empowered to order immediate deportation or detain him in the facilitation centres pending enquiry or deportation. Secondly, the immigration officers are also proposed to be appointed for other areas in districts whenever or wherever necessary. The officers are empowered to detect whether a person is illegal entrant or not after holding an inquiry in the prescribed manner.
If he determines a foreigner to be an illegal entrant, he can issue a removal order against which an appeal may be made within 15 days before the Immigration Tribunal proposed to be constituted by the Central Government. Such a tribunal shall be manned by a person of the rank of retired District Judge. Order of such a tribunal shall be final. If it upholds the removal orders passed by the immigration officer, such a foreigner will be deported. The immigration officers and the immigration tribunals shall decide the matters according to the principles of natural justice.
(vii) In order to speedily try an accused person alleged to have committed offence or offences under the Act, we recommend that sessions court of a district be designated as Immigration Court which may take cognizance of the complaints against the offenders. Some of new offences are proposed to be added to curb the menace of illegal migration.
(viii) We have also made provisions for transfer of cases now pending before the tribunals created under the IMDT Act, 1983 and of the cases pertaining to offences under the Foreigners Act pending in criminal Courts, to the appropriate authorities/Tribunal/Court.
We recommend accordingly.
(Mr. Justice B. P. Jeevan Reddy) (RETD.)
(Dr. N. M. Ghatate)
(Shri T.K. Viswanathan)
Dated: September 19, 2000