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Assam – How the Illegal Migrants Determination by Tribunal (IMDT) Act made deportation very difficult


So, the issue of protecting the ethnic identity of Assam is something that has always been an issue ever since its accession to the Union of India and therefore you had one of the first legislations to come out after the Foreigners Act OF 1946, was the Immigrants Expulsion Act of 1950, that was made applicable to Assam, subsequent to that people realized that nothing of consequence is happening. We still see our identity and our place is being taken hold of and vast numbers are pouring into this particular land, we need to do something about this. So, the All India Assam Students Union, they started creating a ruckus about it and then that leads to the accord which is known as the Assam Accord, which is arrived at the 15th of August 1985.

Now before that something happens, the government comes out with a legislation called the IMDT – Illegal Migrants Determination by Tribunal Act of 1985, pursuant to which they set up foreigners tribunals, they set up illegal migrants tribunals, to basically deport these people. There is a Foreigners Act of 1946, there is a Citizenship Act of 1955, there is an IMDT Act of 1985, okay 1983. You already have a Foreigners Act, to kick out foreigners, why did you need a second legislation in 1983? Ask yourself, why do you need two Acts to achieve the same object? Foreigners Act is meant for Constitution of Tribunals to deport foreigners, the government has absolute powers, unfettered powers under this legislation to kick out anyone, who is not a citizen of this country, who is an illegal migrant. Then why do you need a second legislation?

This is where it becomes relevant. The IMDT Act imposed a higher burden on the government to prove that somebody is an illegal migrant, consequently the burden which was there under the Foreigners Act, was hiked up and spiked up, so that it becomes difficult for you to kick someone out, thereby defeating the very object of that particular Act itself. Therefore, the Assam’s Students Union continued to write and make representations to the state government. The state government makes representation to the Central government over and over again saying, do you know what is the biggest hurdle in the way of deportation? The very legislation that is meant to facilitate deportation, they go on writing this until it reaches a crescendo and then they enter into the Assam Accord of 1985, but does it lead to the repealing of the Act? No, it doesn’t, it goes on.

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