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SC reserves order on plea for right to appeal by those declared foreigners by tribunal


Press Trust of India New Delhi
The Supreme Court Thursday said it is for the legislature to take a call on providing the right to appeal to people for challenging the decisions of Assam's foreigners tribunal which are in the nature of the executive order.
"You go to legislature. Let them make any number of laws (on the issue). We agree that foreigners tribunals have quasi judicial determination which authorises them for executive determination," a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi observed orally.
The Bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, reserved its order on the plea which contended that absence of right to appeal was violative of fundamental rights under the Constitution.
The apex court will deliver the verdict whether a person who has been declared a foreigner by a judicial tribunal has the right to appeal his exclusion or dropping of name from the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
"The foreigners tribunal's decisions may be quasi judicial. Persons declared foreigners by them can seek relief under Article 226 or file suits for declaration of Indian citizenship. You cannot ask the Supreme Court to make an appellate forum for them. That's the legislature's job," the bench told senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, who was arguing for some of the petitioners.
The bench said any remedy like right to appeal against foreigners tribunals, which have executive determination, cannot be agitated in the apex court.
"If you tell us something relevant, we will hear. You cannot take judges here and there. For judicial determination file a suit for declaration," the bench said.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal asked the bench that the apex court can exercise its jurisdiction under Article 142 of the constitution for complete justice.
He submitted that the process followed in the foreigners tribunal was inconsistent with Article 21 of the Constitution and it is difficult for poor people to complete the entire procedure in 60 days.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the law and the proposition on the issue is fully settled and even Article 142 cannot supplant the provisions of foreigners tribunal.
"It is essentially a legislative question and cannot be touched," he submitted.
While hearing the issue on March 26, the bench was told by the Centre that the tribunal's verdict, declaring a person a foreigner, would always prevail over the NRC and such foreigners or illegal migrants cannot be included in the NRC in Assam.
The bench was hearing as many as 16 pleas on the issue.
Sibal, appearing for the 16 petitioners including Abdul Kuddus, had said that a person, whose name has been dropped from the NRC on the ground that he is a foreigner, should have the right to appeal.
"This is the basic due process of law and fair play. Even if the right to appeal is not there, it can be created by the Supreme Court under Article 142 of the Constitution," he said.
One of the questions, the bench had said was "whether a judicial determination of a person being a foreigner would stand superseded if the name of same person is included in the draft or final NRC.

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First Published: Mar 28 2019 | 7:30 PM IST

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