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SC refuses to dismiss APW petition

By Spl Correspondent

NEW DELHI, Oct 25 � The Supreme Court has for now declined to dismiss a civil writ petition that has called for putting on hold the Assembly polls in Assam scheduled next year, citing presence of excess voters suspected to be illegal migrants in the voters� list.

The writ petition filed by Assam Public Works (APW) alleging presence of 40 lakh excess voters in the State, has sought intensive revision of rolls and deletion of names of suspected illegal migrants from the rolls. The governments of India, Assam and the Election Commission of India are respondents in the petition that was filed last year.

The Government of India�s counsel called for dismissal of the petition, contending that it was not strong enough and valid. The Government of Assam has also opposed the petition and countered the claim of unusually high increase of voters. The State Government has revealed that it has set up three detention centres in Brahmaputra and Barak Valley to hold suspected illegal Bangladeshi migrants.

The case came up for hearing before a three-member Bench headed by Chief Justice of India, SH Kapadia on Monday, when the Central Government through its counsel pleaded for dismissal of the petition. The case is likely to come up for further hearing in four week�s time, Abhijeet Sharma president of APW, told newsmen.

Sharma said he is encouraged by the fact that the Election Commission has not contested his claim over high increase of voters in the State. In his petition, Sharma has claimed that in a 19-years period (1972-91), the State had witnessed a high increase in voters. In Dhekiajuli LAC, the rate of annual increase of voters was 22.5 per cent, and the rate of overall increase was 20.5 per cent.

The Election Commission stated that it was because of presence of a large number of people living in forest areas. The APW, an NGO Sharma runs, claimed that in the 19 years (1972-1991), the percentage of increase in voters was 88.88per cent, with an annual growth rate of 4.67 per cent.

Citing reports of the State Electoral Officer, Assam Government has contested this claim of high increase of voters, clarifying that the rate of increase was approximately 15.94 per cent. However, in absence of the corroborative data, it is difficult to attribute this growth only to influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

The State Government contended that averments made by the petitioner, was based on his personal opinion deduced on the basis of unsubstantiated statistics, which has no scope to be verified.

The writ petition has urged the Supreme Court to direct the governments of India, Assam and Election Commission to identify and delete names of all illegal migrants from the latest rolls and to undertake and complete the exercise with outmost urgency, so as to ensure that the next Assembly polls are held on the basis of �corrected� electoral rolls.

The petitioner said the Assembly polls may be deferred if the revision process is not completed fully. It also wanted the apex court to ask the government and the Commission to take necessary measures to ensure that only the names of bonafide citizens are enrolled in the voters� list.

APW also called for a one time operation by adopting the modality, as designed by the petitioner, so as to regularise all pre-March 5, 1971 Bangladeshi along with lineage, as Indian citizens and to identify the post-March 24, 1971 illegal migrants as foreigners and delete their names from the rolls, as �D� Category voters, in substitution of the modality being proposed by the Government purportedly to update the National Register of Citizens 1951.

In its counter-affidavit, the State Government has stated that identification of people who came before March 1971 is till in progress.

Pointing out that an intensive revision of rolls was conducted in 2005 in the State, the Assam Government submitted that �relentless action� continues to be taken to detect foreigners. To prevent disappearance of declared foreigners by the Foreigners Tribunal, detention camps have been set up at Goalpara, Kokrajhar and Silchar, where they are to be kept until their deportation.

Further, the process of finger-printing and photographing of declared foreigners has commenced in order to keep track of them, besides undertaking deletion of their names from the electoral rolls.

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SC refuses to dismiss APW petition

NEW DELHI, Oct 25 � The Supreme Court has for now declined to dismiss a civil writ petition that has called for putting on hold the Assembly polls in Assam scheduled next year, citing presence of excess voters suspected to be illegal migrants in the voters� list.

The writ petition filed by Assam Public Works (APW) alleging presence of 40 lakh excess voters in the State, has sought intensive revision of rolls and deletion of names of suspected illegal migrants from the rolls. The governments of India, Assam and the Election Commission of India are respondents in the petition that was filed last year.

The Government of India�s counsel called for dismissal of the petition, contending that it was not strong enough and valid. The Government of Assam has also opposed the petition and countered the claim of unusually high increase of voters. The State Government has revealed that it has set up three detention centres in Brahmaputra and Barak Valley to hold suspected illegal Bangladeshi migrants.

The case came up for hearing before a three-member Bench headed by Chief Justice of India, SH Kapadia on Monday, when the Central Government through its counsel pleaded for dismissal of the petition. The case is likely to come up for further hearing in four week�s time, Abhijeet Sharma president of APW, told newsmen.

Sharma said he is encouraged by the fact that the Election Commission has not contested his claim over high increase of voters in the State. In his petition, Sharma has claimed that in a 19-years period (1972-91), the State had witnessed a high increase in voters. In Dhekiajuli LAC, the rate of annual increase of voters was 22.5 per cent, and the rate of overall increase was 20.5 per cent.

The Election Commission stated that it was because of presence of a large number of people living in forest areas. The APW, an NGO Sharma runs, claimed that in the 19 years (1972-1991), the percentage of increase in voters was 88.88per cent, with an annual growth rate of 4.67 per cent.

Citing reports of the State Electoral Officer, Assam Government has contested this claim of high increase of voters, clarifying that the rate of increase was approximately 15.94 per cent. However, in absence of the corroborative data, it is difficult to attribute this growth only to influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

The State Government contended that averments made by the petitioner, was based on his personal opinion deduced on the basis of unsubstantiated statistics, which has no scope to be verified.

The writ petition has urged the Supreme Court to direct the governments of India, Assam and Election Commission to identify and delete names of all illegal migrants from the latest rolls and to undertake and complete the exercise with outmost urgency, so as to ensure that the next Assembly polls are held on the basis of �corrected� electoral rolls.

The petitioner said the Assembly polls may be deferred if the revision process is not completed fully. It also wanted the apex court to ask the government and the Commission to take necessary measures to ensure that only the names of bonafide citizens are enrolled in the voters� list.

APW also called for a one time operation by adopting the modality, as designed by the petitioner, so as to regularise all pre-March 5, 1971 Bangladeshi along with lineage, as Indian citizens and to identify the post-March 24, 1971 illegal migrants as foreigners and delete their names from the rolls, as �D� Category voters, in substitution of the modality being proposed by the Government purportedly to update the National Register of Citizens 1951.

In its counter-affidavit, the State Government has stated that identification of people who came before March 1971 is till in progress.

Pointing out that an intensive revision of rolls was conducted in 2005 in the State, the Assam Government submitted that �relentless action� continues to be taken to detect foreigners. To prevent disappearance of declared foreigners by the Foreigners Tribunal, detention camps have been set up at Goalpara, Kokrajhar and Silchar, where they are to be kept until their deportation.

Further, the process of finger-printing and photographing of declared foreigners has commenced in order to keep track of them, besides undertaking deletion of their names from the electoral rolls.