The Supreme Court Friday permitted two Assam-based NGOs to include West Bengal and Meghalaya as parties in their PIL seeking to restrain the central and Assam government from deporting Bangladeshi minority community members sheltering in Assam after attacks on them there.
A bench of Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi permitted the petitioner NGOs to amend their PIL to include West Bengal and Meghalaya after it was told that these displaced people from Bangladesh were spread over to these two States also.
The petition said the government should ensure that these people were “not harassed and were able to enjoy basic human rights and reasonable living conditions including access to courts, facility of primary education, of residence, permission to work and to travel, and also protect their life and liberty”.
The petition said the central government has time and again accepted that, in past, there were attacks on the life and property of minorities in Bangladesh which have compelled them to cross over to India.
Initially, the court was inclined to refer the PIL to the Assam High Court holding that it was better placed to deal with the problem. However, it allowed petitioner NGOs Swajan and Bimolangshu Roy Foundation to include two states as respondents.
Appearing for the NGOs, senior counsel M.N. Krishnamani told the court the people from Bangladesh who have taken shelter in various parts of Assam were entitled to benefits of the Proviso to Section 2 of the Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act.
When the court observed that law for the benefits of the these people was always there, Krishnamani told the court that the “problem is that this law was not being implemented”.
He said that these people should be given passports and permitted to move freely within the country, adding it was the question of human rights of these immigrants and these people had to be treated as refugees.
Krishnamani told the court that Gauhati High Court has directed their deportation.
On a query from Justice Sathasivam on the number of such illegal immigrants, the court was told that they were about two lakhs.
“If it is Assam alone,” Justice Sathasivam said, “then the high court is better placed to deal with it.”
However, it adjourned hearing to permit the NGOs to make necessary changes to include West Bengal and Meghalaya as respondents.