NEW DELHI: Ahead of the Assam assembly elections, the Congress-led government on Friday decided to amend the Foreigners’ Act to ensure fair hearing to a person before declaring him a foreigner. The decision was taken by the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister in the wake of the situation caused by Supreme Court’s decision in July to strike down the controversial Illegal Migrants Determination by Tribunals Act. After the Supreme Court decision, a Group of Ministers (GoM) was set up to study the Apex ruling and decide on further action.
Instead of bringing IMDT Act in another form, the GoM headed by the Prime Minister decided to utilise provisions under the Foreigners Act and set up tribunals for determination of illegal migrants. Briefing reporters, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said that the CCPA took a decision that before a person is declared a foreigner his case shall be referred to a tribunal and full opportunity will be given to the person of being heard. The tribunals would be set up under the Foreigners Act that given authority to the government for setting up such tribunals, he said. The Prime Minister, during his visit to the poll bound state last month, had assured minorities that all necessary steps would be taken to protect their legitimate interests in the wake of scrapping of IMDT Act and there would be no harrassment of genuine citizens.