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As many as 57 orders of a Foreigners’ Tribunal at Assam were recently quashed by the Gauhati High Court for serious discrepancies that even prompted the Bench of Justices Manojit Bhuyan and Kalyan Rai Surana to record in its order,
“… we express our disappointment over the way the Member conducted himself. This was not expected. In the ordinary course this would have called for some action, disciplinary or otherwise. We leave it at that.”
The matter had its genesis in a letter addressed to various authorities, including the Gauhati High Court Registrar (Judicial) last year. The letter highlighted that 288 references shown to have been disposed of by a member of the foreigners’ tribunal were not accompanied by detailed opinions in the official case records.
Considering the gravity of the issue, the High Court registered a suo motu case and issued notice in the matter in June last year. The Principal Secretary, Home and Political (B) Department of Assam was directed to seize the case records of the 288 references and place them before the Court along with a detailed report regarding the same.
Following a scrutiny of the report submitted by the Government on October 3, 2018, the following anomalies were detected in 57 cases, i.e.
(a) Judgment not found on record – 11
(b) Mismatching between Judgment Copy with Order Sheet -06
(c) Dual Judgment – 05
(d) No vacate order found- 32
(e) Number of proceedee discrepancy – 02
(f) Undisposed since proceedee expired – 01
The October 2018 Government Report informed that the total number of cases under scrutiny is 282 and not 288 as 6 cases were found to be mentioned twice.
The High Court proceeded to quash the 57 cases found to have been disposed of without any accompanying opinion. The Bench emphasised that,
“.. mere noting in the note-sheet or passing of an order that reference was disposed of without a reasoned opinion/absence of judgment copy/dual judgment/without vacating earlier order in the case file would be no order in the eye of law. Such a noting or order cannot be construed to be an order disposing of a reference case by a Foreigners Tribunal. There has to be an opinion on record which must carry the seal and signature of the Presiding Officer of the Tribunal. In the absence thereof, such a reference will have to be treated as not being disposed of and be considered as a pending reference, which would have to be heard afresh.”
In view of this observation, the Court proceeded to dispose of the matter, ordering,
“… in all the above 57 references of the Foreigners Tribunal No.4, Morigaon, the ‘orders of disposal’ are non est in the eye of law and liable to be set aside, which is accordingly done. All the above 57 references shall now be heard afresh from the respective stages. The Member of the Tribunal shall list the above references in the Notice Board of the Tribunal giving fresh dates. Fresh notice may also be issued to the proceedees.
… the disposal order in the above manner in respect of the 57 references shall have no legal consequences and shall not be acted upon by the Superintendent of Police (Border), Morigaon as well as by the Deputy Commissioner, Morigaon. All the 57 references shall now be treated as pending references.”
[Read the Order]