What are the laws in place to tackle illegal non-citizens?.

What are the laws in place to tackle illegal non-citizens? Why was the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964 amended?

The story so far: The Home Minister Amit Shah’s announcement in the Rajya Sabha earlier this week that a National Register of Citizens (NRC) will be implemented across India, and repeated again in Assam, has ignited interest in the existing legal framework in India for illegal migrants. The first enactment made for dealing with foreigners was the Foreigners Act, 1864, which provided for the expulsion of foreigners and their arrest, detention pending removal, and for a ban on their entry into India after removal.

What is the Passport Act?

One of the early set of rules made against illegal migrants, The Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920, empowered the government to make rules requiring persons entering India to be in possession of passports. This rule also granted the government the power to remove from India any person who entered without a passport. During the Second World War, the Imperial Legislative Assembly enacted the Foreigners Act, 1940, under which the concept of “burden of proof” was introduced. Section 7 of the Act provided that whenever a question arose with regard to the nationality of a person, the onus of proving that he was not a foreigner lay upon the person.


When was the Foreigners Act made more stringent?

The legislature enacted the Foreigners Act, 1946, by repealing the 1940 Act, conferring wide powers to deal with all foreigners. Apart from defining a ‘foreigner’ as a person who is not a citizen of India, it empowered the government to make provisions for prohibiting, regulating or restricting the entry of foreigners into India.

It also restricted the rights enjoyed by foreigners in terms of their stay in the country if any such orders are passed by the authority. The 1946 Act empowered the government to take such steps as are necessary, including the use of force for securing compliance with such directions.

The most important provision of the 1946 law, which is still applicable in all States and Union Territories, was that the ‘burden of proof’ lies with the person, and not with the authorities. This has been upheld by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court. (Source: The Hindu)

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