Lok Sabha Debates On The Foreigners (Amendment) Bill, 2003.

Dated: 30 January 2004

 14.49 hrs The Lok Sabha re-assembled after Lunch at forty-nine minutes past Fourteen of the Clock.

(Mr. Deputy-Speaker in the Chair) MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: The House will now take up Item No.13. We have allotted half-an-hour for discussion on this Bill.

14.50 hrs FOREIGNERS (AMENDMENT) BILL,2003 Title: Discussion on the Foreigners (Amendment) Bill, 2003. (Bill, as amended, was passed).

THE MINISTER OF STATE IN THE MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS AND MINISTER OF STATE IN THE MINISTRY OF PERSONNEL, PUBLIC GRIEVANCES AND PENSIONS (SHRI HARIN PATHAK): Sir, on behalf of my senior colleague, Shri L.K. Advani, the hon. Deputy Prime Minister, I beg to move:

“That the Bill further to amend the Foreigners Act, 1946, as passed by Rajya Sabha, be taken into consideration.”

Sir, the Foreigners (Amendment) Bill, 1998 to amend section 14 of the Foreigners Act, 1946 was initially introduced in Rajya Sabha in June, 1998. Section 14 of the Foreigners Act, 1946 provides for penalty for contravention of the provisions of the Act or any order made thereunder, which is imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine. This is the present provision. अभी जो वर्तमान में प्रोवीजन है, उसमें पांच साल की सजा है और पांच साल की सजा में फाइन भी है। परिस्थिति यह है as per section 437 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the accused person sometimes easily gets the bail from the First Class Magistrate Court.

The Bill was introduced with the aims and objectives to classify the offences under the Foreigners Act and to provide for punishment depending on the gravity of the offence committed. At present, there is no classification of the offences, whether it is minor or major. In this Bill, we are classifying the offences, that these are offences of overstaying, extension or if any other violation is there. These are the minor offences. It is proposed that for serious offences the maximum punishment under the Foreigners Act may be up to eight years and fine up to Rs.50,000. If the Bill is approved, serious offences will become triable by the Court of Sessions. Formerly it was triable by the First Class Magistrate. So they were able to get the bail. Now, before getting the bail, application being presented in the Court, the State Government will have an opportunity under section 439 to oppose the bail.

The Bill was referred to the Departmentally Related Parliamentary Standing Committee of the Ministry of Home Affairs for examination and report. The Committee deliberated on the Amendment Bill and submitted its report in March, 2000. Subsequently, the Ministry of Home Affairs also referred the matter to the Law Commission of India for study and recommendations. The Law Commission of India presented its 175th Report on Foreigners (Amendment) Bill, 2000 to the Government in September, 2000. The recommendations of the Law Commission were examined and the Government decided to pursue the Foreigners (Amendment) Bill, 1998, already introduced in the Rajya Sabha for enhancing existing punishment from five years to eight years which has also been recommended by the Law Commission. Accordingly, the matter was pursued in the Rajya Sabha and the Foreigners (Amendment) Bill, 1998, together with further amendments, was considered and passed by the Rajya Sabha on 7th May, 2003.

The Bill has been brought so that the penal provisions in the Foreigners Act, 1946 may be effective and deterrent. In view of the position explained, I commend it to the august House that this Bill may be passed as has been passed by Rajya Sabha on 7th May, 2003. As the calendar year has been changed since the Rajya Sabha passed the Bill, consequential official amendments are also to be made in the Bill as passed by the Rajya Sabha to substitute “Fifty-fifth” in place of “Fifty-fourth” in the Enacting Formula, and “2004” in place of “2003” at page 1, line 3 of the Bill. These amendments may also be taken into consideration and the Bill be passed.

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Motion moved:

“That the Bill further to amend the Foreigners Act, 1946, as passed by Rajya Sabha, be taken into consideration.”

SHRI E.M. SUDARSANA NATCHIAPPAN (SIVAGANGA): Thank you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker Sir. This Foreigners (Amendment) Bill 2003, now it is made as 2004 Bill, prima-facie may be a simple Bill as enunciated by the hon. Minister. But it has got far reaching consequences. It is not simply the bail granting under section 437 or section 439, it is a Bill which just widens the scope of taking action by the State Government against eight different types of classifications which will cover particular persons.

I would like to draw the attention of the hon. Minister that new sections are also included now. Now, Section 14 says:

“Whoever—

(a) remains in any area in India for a period exceeding the period for which the visa was issued to him;

(b) does any act in violation of the conditions of the valid visa …”

(c) contravenes the provisions of this Act ….”

Section 14A gives a permit to be issued by the Government now to enter into a particular notified area. If that permit is not available with the individual or if he remains more than that period, then that is also punishable. The fifth one says that without the valid documents if a person enters or stays in a particular place, he is also punishable and he will also be covered by this Bill. The sixth one says: “a forged passport or remains without any authority of law.” The eighth one says: “abetting such offences”.

Therefore, wide consequences are coming out by this amendment. At the same time, the Government has not considered the recommendations made by the Standing Committee which was submitted in 2000 and the recommendations of the Law Commission in their 175th Report. These Reports are telling that this simple enactment would have a far-reaching consequences. Therefore, there should be a comprehensive legislation to tie up the situation of the illegal immigrants and also the problem of infiltration. But none of these things were considered in this Bill and there is no provision regarding them.

We appreciate that this type of a Bill is brought purely on the recommendation of the bureaucrats, especially the prosecutors who cannot manage at the judiciary level. They can very well argue the matter under Section 437 when the bail application comes before the court. It is not the first-class Magistrate who cannot give proper ruling and only the Sessions Judge can give the ruling. Any court can give the ruling. If a particular court has given it, there is an appellate authority and revision authority at the level of Supreme Court. Therefore, simply because of the inconsequential recommendation of the bureaucrats, especially the prosecutors and also the police, this particular enactment has been brought with more consequences thereon.

Therefore, this Bill is not a comprehensive one to take into consideration of all these aspects. It is simply a hurried Bill which gives a lot of powers to the district authority to find out the people. I would like to know whether there is a machinery for it and also whether there is a guideline for that. Who is going to find out these violations of the law?

When there is cross border terrorism and any person is implicated in any offence, then this Section will also be applied. Only for that purpose, this Bill is brought about but the overall consequences have not been considered at all.

I would like to draw the attention of the Government that we have gone into a lot of conventions especially the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – March 23, 1976, which classifies citizens and aliens. They are also having the right of protection. They have got equal right under article 21 and other articles of the Constitution.

What is the machinery which differentiates between a citizen and alien? I would like to know in which way they are brought into the book of the four walls of the law. I would also like to know whether Justice P.N. Bhagwati’s draft Refugees and Asylums Protection Act, which was suggested as early in 2000, has been considered by the Government.

By simply having this Bill, we would not be able to overcome the situation which is coming across from all the borders of India.

Sir, you know very well that India is a place where everybody can come and also stay without any valid passport, without any visa. Hundreds and lacks of such people are living in India. They are coming from Nepal; they are coming from Myanmar; they are coming Pakistan; they are coming from Bangladesh; they are coming from Afghanistan and from all the Arabian countries.

15.00 hrs. Even in Western countries, the people want to have some peaceful living. They are just coming here and they are staying here itself. From Sri Lanka, especially many Tamils and other refugees have come because of the situation in that nation. How are we classifying the people? We are having a very meagre budgetary provision, but lakhs and lakhs of people are coming to India and they are grabbing our own transport system, our own social security system and everything. We are not controlling it. The machinery is not properly built up to book these types of illegal immigrants under this law. But here I want to say that if you are coming with a passport, if you are coming with a visa and if you are not going back within the particular time, then you are punishable under this provision for eight years. Is it not inhuman? Is it not violation of the human rights?

Suppose there is a bandh, and a person wants to go to the airport to catch an aircraft and if he could not go and reach the airport at the appropriate time, he is punishable for eight years. Who is going to protect him? In our system, there is so much of corrupt practice going on at the grass root level, at the district level. If very genuine people, who have come with the valid passports, are stayed for the consequences in and around the place, they will also be punished under this provision for eight long years. The law simply should not give too much of power in the hands of the district level authorities. It is not controlled by any other regulation. It is not providing for any particular Tribunal or any such thing.

Previously, to control the Assam immigration, we were having the Tribunal Act. But these types of things are not available. How do you control and find out the real people who have to be punished without having a proper mechanism? How do you find out whether their stay in this nation is against our own interest or against the security of our nation? How do you know whether they are doing it against our own interest? Who has to find out? Simply when he is caught in some particular case, then alone he is booked under this Act. Therefore, this enactment is a very hasty one without thinking about what the consequences of it. But it should be a proper comprehensive enactment. We have to look into the whole issue of migrants, illegal migrants and the people who are living here and having all the rights of the citizenship. Without having the citizen rights, they are enjoying and they are contesting the elections in the local Boards also. Even though they are not covered under this particular Act, simply they are purchasing the property; they are having their own names in the voters’ list; they are having their own electricity bills and other things. By showing them, they want to say that they are citizens of this country and they have got the right to contest the election. Therefore, this type of immigration should be stopped. This enactment is a very simple one but a broader and a very wide canvassing power is given to the district level officials. Therefore, I feel that the Government should come forward with a better law in due course.

डॉ.लक्ष्मीनारायण पाण्डेय (मंदसौर):उपाध्यक्ष महोदय, प्रस्तुत विधेयक अत्यन्त ही सामान्य श्रेणी का है। राज्य सभा में इसे पारित किया जा चुका है और कुछ नये उपबंध इसमें समाहित किये गये हैं। जैसा कि आप जानते हैं कि पासपोर्ट के मामले में, वीजा के मामले में जो कठिनाइयां हैं और जिस प्रकार से उनका दुरूपयोग किया जाता है, उसको रोकने की द्ृष्टि से इस प्रकार के उपबंध आवश्यक थे, जो इसमें किये गये हैं। मैं इस विधेयक का समर्थन करता हूं और ऐसा मानता हूं कि इन उपबंधों के कारण और जो इसमें प्रावधान किये गये हैं, उनके कारण इस प्रकार के दुरूपयोग रोके जा सकेंगे। मैं कहना चाहूंगा कि जिस प्रकार से वीजा प्राप्त करने के बाद लोग यहां आते हैं और वीजा की अवधि समाप्त होने के बाद भी यहां टिके रहते हैं, उनको ढूंढने में कठिनाई होती है और कुछ लोग ऐसे भी हैं जो केन्द्र सरकार और राज्य सरकारों की जानकारी में होंगे। यहां तक कि उनके द्वारा ५ वर्ष. ७ वर्ष और १० वर्ष की अवधि की नागरिकता ग्रहण करने की चेष्टा की गई है। सरकार ने इस विधेयक द्वारा दण्डावधि बढ़ाई है और ऐसे अपराधों को गम्भीरता से लिया है। मैं चाहूंगा कि माननीय मंत्री जी इस विषय तथा ऐसे अनधिकृत रूप से ठहरे वीजाधारियों को भी देखें। मेरे माननीय मित्र कह रहे थे कि एक काम्प्रिहैंसिव विधेयक लाने की आवश्यकता है। मैं नहीं मानता कि इसमे कोई ज्यादा कठिनाई है जिस से कि एक काम्प्रहैंसिव विधेयक सीमा के अंदर लाने की आवश्यकता पड़े। फिर भी जैसा उद्देश्यों और कथन में विवरण दिया गया है :

“उस अधनियम या ऐसे आदेश के अनुसरण में दिये गये किसी निदेश का उल्लंघन कारावास से, जो पांच वर्ष तक का हो सकेगा और जुर्माने से दण्डनीय है। विदेशियों विषयक अधनियम के अधीन मामले संज्ञेय, अजमानतीय और प्रथम वर्ग मजिस्ट्रेट द्वारा विचारणीय हैं। “

इसे रोकने की द्ृष्टि से इसमें कुछ प्रावधान किये गये हैं और दण्ड का प्रावधान भी किया गया है। इस दण्ड में वृद्धि के कारण गम्भीर अपराध रुकेंगे और सेशन न्यायालय द्वारा भी विचारणीय हो सकेंगे। उसके बाद भी जमानत के आवेदन का विरोध करने का अवसर मिल सकेगा। जो लोग ऐसे ही जमानत प्राप्त कर लेते हैं, वे इस विधेयक में किये गये प्रावधान के आधार पर जमानत प्राप्त नहीं कर सकेंगे, मैं ऐसा मानता हूं।

उपाध्यक्ष जी, राज्य सभा में इस विधेयक पर काफी विचार किया गया है और इसे पारित भी किया गया है। इसलिये यहां भी इसे सर्वानुमित से पारित किया जाये। मैं विधेयक का समर्थन करता हूं और आशा करता हूं कि इस विधेयक द्वारा सरकार को वही अधिकार प्राप्त होंगे जो इस विधेयक में दिये गये हैं।तथा इस शंका का कोई कारण नहीं है कि इसका दुरूपयोग होगा । इन अधिकारों के कारण उन समस्याओं का समाधान निकल सकता है, जो दोषसिद्ध व्यक्ति होंगे, वे दंडनीय माने जायेंगे और उनके खिलाफ कार्यवाही की जा सकेगी। इससे वीजा का दुरुपयोग रुक जायेगा।

उपाध्यक्ष जी, मैं इस अवसर का लाभ उठाते हुये एक निवेदन और करना चाहूंगा कि लोगों को पासपोर्ट मिलने में काफी सहूलियत हो गई है लेकिन कई बार कठिनाई आ जाती है। उन नियमो को सरल बनाया जाना चाहिये ताकि आम नागरिकों को पासपोर्ट मिलने में किसी प्रकार की कठिनाई न हो। जब भी हम पासपोर्ट लेने जाते हैं, वहां अंग्रेजी भाषा का प्रचलन है, हिन्दी का नहीं है। जब सरकार की द्विभाषी नीति है तो अंग्रेजी के साथ साथ हिन्दी का प्रावधान भी किया जाना चाहिये। मैं तो चाहूंगा कि इस नियम को कड़ाई से लागू किया जाना चाहिये। जब भी हम दूसरे देशों में जातें हैं, वे अपने देश की भाषा में ही मुहर लगाते हैं तथा पृष्ठाकंन भी करते हैं जबकि हमारे यहां अंग्रेजी भाषा में लगाई जाती है। माननीय मंत्री जी से आग्रह है कि वे इस मामले को भी देखें।

मैं इस विधेयक का समर्थन करते हुये अपना स्थान ग्रहण करता हूं।

SHRI G.M. BANATWALLA (PONNANI): Mr. Deputy-Speaker, Sir, there could be no two opinions with respect to the fact that offences concerning illegal entry into our country, visa violations, etc. should be dealt with effectively. The hon. Minister has very lucidly and clearly explained the provisions of the Bill to the House but it must be realised that this is not a normal Bill. It will have far-reaching consequences.

(Dr. Laxminarayan Pandeya in the Chair) The most important defect of the Bill is that almost all categories of offences have been just lumped together without proper consideration. It should be realised that a foreign agent does not enter a country with valid documents and simply overstays. If that is the reading of the situation, it is ludicrous enough. There are several reasons and at times very genuine reasons. These should be duly taken into consideration while cracking the whip of law.