SC pulls up Assam Chief Secretary for non-appearance

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday pulled up the Chief Secretary of Assam for not being present before it in pursuance to its earlier direction after the state government told the court that around 70,000 declared illegal migrants were missing.

The Bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjiv Khanna directed the Chief Secretary to be present in the court on April 8, the next date of hearing.

The top court stopped short of issuing a non-bailable warrant against him.

The court spared the Chief Secretary from any coercive action as it recorded “…the Solicitor General undertakes that the Chief Secretary of Assam will be personally present in the court on the next date and will remain present in the court until required. On this undertaking, we refrain from passing any coercive order.”

Taking exception to the affidavit filed by the state government that did not address the issues raised by the court, Chief Justice Gogoi slammed the Assam government for playing around with the court and dragging the matter.

“The government of Assam is playing around with the court. Your affidavits are an exercise in futility. You are just dragging the feat,” Chief Justice Gogoi said.

The Chief Justice said admonishingly: “This is the best a government can do?” and cautioned the Solicitor General not to force the court to “invoke our (its) jurisdiction.”

Making it clear that it was not going to accept the lackadaisical approach of the Assam government, Chief Justice Gogoi told the Solicitor General: “Don’t defend indefensible.”

The top court at an earlier on March 13 had slammed the Assam government for its “lackadaisical approach” in detecting and deporting over 50,000 foreigners whose presence in the state was once described, by the top court, as “external aggression”.

Noting that the Assam government had identified just 900 foreigners staying in the state without authorisation, the court had sought information on the number of foreigners in Assam, the number of them detected and deported, the number of foreign tribunals and whether they are adequate and the precise number of additional tribunals required immediately or in the near future.