What is the Foreign Tribunal?

FOREIGN TRIBUNAL - law insider

By Nirupam Deo

Published On : August 18, 2021 16:46 IST

Foreigners’ Tribunals are quasi-judicial units founded as per the Foreigners’ Tribunal Order, 1964 and the Foreigners’ Act, 1946. It is for those who have been excluded in the definitive NRC list or have been commemorated as ‘D’ meaning ‘doubtful’. The ones subsiding under this classification have the Right to contest to the Foreigners Tribunal.

Under the outlay of Foreigners’ Act, 1946 and Foreigners Tribunal Order, 1964, solely Foreigner Tribunals have the Right to confirm someone as a Foreigner. The oversight of a person’s name in the NRC does not prima facie sum up to that person is a proclaimed non-citizen.

Nonetheless, if proclaimed a foreigner or positioned in the skeptical class the Burden of Proof yarns with the indicted.

Commemorating the NRC shaft in Assam, the Government of India lengthened the time limit for putting in order of petitions from 60 days to 120 days.

The Foreigners Act, 1946 distinguishes a foreigner as an individual who is not a Citizen of India. Section 9 of the Act asserts that, where the ethnicity of a person is not noticeable as per the preceding Section 8, the burden of verifying whether an individual is a foreigner or not, shall prevaricate upon such self.

Regardless, in the Illegal Migrants (IMDT) Act, the responsibility of substantiating the Citizenship or contrarily sloped on the accuser and the police, not the accused. This was a crucial withdrawal from the requirements of the Foreigners Act, 1946.

The accuser must dwell around a 3 km radius of the accused, fill out a grievance form, an utmost of ten per accuser is enabled, and reimburse payment of ten Rupees.

The Assam Police Border Organisation, a branch of the State police got charged with distinguishing foreigners, equips the Trials for the Tribunals to determine who is a foreigner and who is not.

What is the history of Foreign Tribunal in India?

The Foreign Tribunals was established through the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964 in a referendum to allow State Administration to make a connection about an individual doubted to be a foreigner to the Tribunals. The Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964 was authorized by the Central government through the use of Powers awarded under Section 3 of the Foreigners Act, 1946.

The Illegal Migrants Act (IMDT) was legislated in 1983 by Indira Gandhi led UPA Government. It was forged to distinguish illegal immigrants (From Bangladesh) and deport them from Assam.

The Act was nudged through primarily on the footings that it furnished outstanding protections against unnecessary harassment to the “minorities” encompassed by the Assam Agitation. It was adequate to the State of Assam only whereas, in other States, the distinguishment of foreigners is done under The Foreigners Act, 1946.

What is CAA and NRC? What is the Controversy surrounding their implementation?

The Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, was formulated to modify the Citizenship Act 1955 to comprehend particular categories of illicit settlers, discriminated by Religion and Country of ancestry. It was authorized on December 11, 2019, as the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA).

 Under the CAA Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Parsis, and Sikhs who had departed from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, or Pakistan to India before 2014 are no longer deemed to be illicit settlers and can more readily attain Citizenship. Vacated out of the six religions awarded outstanding freedoms are Jews and Muslims, thereby making official an unjust strategy against Islam and Judaism in India.

The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2016, halts India’s bequest of underscoring secularism over religion nationally. Uprisings against the Citizenship Amendment Act had an ahead onset in Northeast India, particularly in Assam. A further motivation for revolts is the possibility that with Muslims left out of the CAA, all India National Register of Citizens (NRC) will locate no area for Muslims but presume them to be Nationless.

What are the features of Foreign Tribunal?

  • The Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964 was handed out by the Central Government under Section 3 of The Foreigners Act, 1946.
  • It is relevant to the entire nation.
  • The previous Amendment was administered in May 2019.
  • Heretofore NRC chore is taking off on only in Assam, thus, the previous Order, issued on 30thMay 2019 is acceptable merely to Assam as on date for all pragmatic objectives.
  • The May 2019 Amendment just decrees the principles for the Tribunals to opt for pleas brought about by individuals not convinced with the consequence of assertions and complaints catalogued against the NRC.
  • Each person, whose name does not picture in the last National Register of Citizens (NRC), can exemplify their issue in front of the appellate counsel, the Foreigners Tribunals (Foreign Tribunal).
  • There are hundreds of Foreigners Tribunal operating in Assam. Initially, 11 Illegal Migrant Determination Tribunals (IMDT) were working. After the abolition of the IMDT Act, the Administration of Assam has recently ascertained 21 new Foreign Tribunals in 2005.
  • In the year 2009, another 4 of Foreign Tribunals had been founded. In the year 2014 further 64 of Foreign Tribunals had been inaugurated for removal of Pending Cases in Foreign Tribunals.

How is the Foreign Tribunal constituted?

  • All Foreign Tribunal component is ordained under the Foreigners Tribunal Act, 1941, and Foreigners Tribunal Order, 1984, as through the protocols handed out by the Government at any period.
  • Amember can be an ex Judicial Officer of the Assam Judicial Service, an ex Civil Servant not below the grade of Secretary and additional secretary with Judicial background, or a Practicing Advocate not under the term of 35 years and with slim figure of at least seven years of practice.
  • A member is also expected to possess a reasonable understanding of the authorized languages of Assam (Assamese, Bengali, Bodo and English) as well as be acquainted with the ancient atmosphere to the foreigners’ case.

What is the advantage of having a Foreign Tribunal?

  • It helps in the categorization of People as Citizens and non-Citizens.
  • Quickly settles disputes relating to the ethical issue of people.
  • Gives the “Objection” tag on people it is doubtful of being noncitizens of India but staying in it illegally.
  • It aids people to prove their Citizenship, in case they are Citizens and are facing difficulty in proving the same.

What are the disadvantages and General Criticisms of Foreign Tribunal?

  • The association, Amnesty International has identified that the Foreign Tribunals that inferred the right to Citizenship in Assam were repeatedly scornful, used belittling terminology, regulated their methods and pertained to them in immoral manners.
  • The organisation has also dubbed for an inquiry of the prevailing legislative Administration overseeing the decision of Nationality in India.
  • It is often highlighted for its discriminatory practices against a few sects of the society by countless Indians who led several protests against its Judgements.
  • The Tribunal has been accused of taking harsh measures against the people with a dissenting opinion.
  • There have been public outcries in India where people accused the Tribunal decisions have the inherent nature of disrupting the Communal harmony of the Nation.
  • Some of the decisions of the Tribunal are also accused of being violative to the very principles of the Constitution and against Human Rights.
  • A few International organizations of San Francisco also described the decisions of the Tribunal as “millions of people, among minorities and caste oppressed, stateless”.
  • There have been accusations of its decisions as being “Islamophobe” by an International Organization called The Bay Area Community.
  • Also, a huge Population of India protested as its decisions disrupting the Democratic Nature of the Country and its decisions being biased and demonizes few particular sects of the society.

What are the effects of Foreign Tribunal?

  • The Act of framing the Foreign Tribunal gave quite the weightage of owning documents to prove Citizenship and incentive for staying long enough for immigrants to become Citizens. The punishment of non-compliance extends from a period between 3 months to 8 years which causes enough fear in the minds of the apprehenders.
  • A sanction for raising 1000 more Tribunals has been brought to the notice, this all resulted because of an adequate result these Tribunals have provided, saving the internal resources and identifying the illegal non-citizens staying in India.
  • Almost 40 lakh populations were omitted from Assam’s final draft disseminated the previous year. The NRC is an aftermath of the Assam Accord, 1985. As many as 36 lakh of those excluded have filed claims against the exclusion, while four lakh inhabitants haven’t pertained.
  • A whole new procedure of detection, detention and eviction system has been established to deal with the issue at hand of a large number of immigrants staying in India illegally.
  • The revised injunction also enables District Magistrates to cite people who haven’t catalogued lawsuits against their exclusion from NRC to the Tribunals to determine if they are immigrants or not.
  • Happy with the performance of the Foreign Tribunals, the Government also issued notice for making a new Act for the imposition of it in every State of India.
  • The Tribunal made an intense Survey of the State Assam and almost 20 lakh people were excluded from the State’s Citizenship list. An approximation of 3.29 Crore people went through the Survey and 3.11 Crore were declared as valid Citizens.[i]
  • The Tribunal had regularly tended to all the Grievance of people who felt the NRC move to be responsible as a result of not making into the Citizenship List.


Thus, the Tribunal was only set up keeping in mind the possibility of a lot of trials that would be needed to reach a proper decision, to not let injustice happen to its citizens and to address any form of grievances to be settled.

Foreign Tribunal has done a commendable job, due to which several others are being enacted to join the same mission and to provide justice to the People. The Government is especially happy with its performance.

Although surrounded by many controversies which bring into the light the ulterior motives which might be blinding the case and are maybe actually making them biased over the decision they take, nothing has been proven yet with substantial evidence making the “theories” as mere suspicion or even unjustified. They might hold or they may be false owing as anti-government propaganda which the Opposition doesn’t leave at any chance it gets to cause disruption.

The Tribunal has been doing a fine job until now, there is a lot of unsettled case for which more Tribunals are being enacted regularly to address the same and there’s a good amount of hope that it will address every issue and pass justified Judgements.


[i]Assam final NRC list released: 19,06,657 people excluded, 3.11 crore make it to citizenship list.(Last read 13th August 2021. 21:57 PM)

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