GUWAHATI, July 9 � Though the State government notified setting up of new tribunals under the provisions of the Foreigners� Act to expedite the process of disposal of the cases, those are likely to become functional only towards the end of this year.
Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that at present, 36 Foreigners� Tribunals are operational in Assam and early this year, the State government notified setting up of 64 new tribunals to increase the total number of such tribunals to 100. But the new tribunals are likely to become functional only by December.
Sources said that more than three lakh cases are pending in the tribunals and only setting up of new tribunals would expedite the process of disposal of the cases. Availability of adequate numbers of qualified persons to be appointed as members of the tribunals was one of the major problems and the government has already increased the superannuation age of the members from 65 to 67 to do away with the problem.
Sources expressed the hope that the government would be able to find an adequate number of qualified persons to be appointed as members of the new tribunals. As per the rules, any serving or retired district judge or additional district judge can be appointed as a member of the Foreigners� Tribunals and the Gauhati High Court has already furnished a list of persons willing to be appointed as members of the Tribunals. A committee headed by a sitting Judge of the Gauhati High Court has been constituted to select persons to be appointed as members of the Tribunals and the process is likely to be completed by September or October. Meanwhile, the existing Tribunals have been authorized to fill up the vacant posts as per the model staffing pattern.
Commenting on the slow pace of disposal of the cases, sources said that some cases are pending for years because the suspects became untraced. Moreover, the Government is mulling the idea of requesting the Gauhati High Court to monitor the functioning of the Foreigners� Tribunals. Sources pointed out that the functioning of the other courts are monitored by the High Court and the performance of the Tribunals may improve if the same are also monitored by the High Court.