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SC raps Centre over 'vague' report on Indo-Bangla border fencing

SC raps Centre over vague report on Indo-Bangla border fencing
Even though the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) raised its concern over the immigration of Bangladeshis with great vehemence, the observation of Supreme Court on construction of fencing along Indo-Bangladesh border has put the ruling government's intent under scanner.

The Centre has told the court that the actual construction work of the 263-km fencing along Indo-Bangladesh border will take three years and go beyond the year 2020.

Expressing its "regret" and serious "dissatisfaction" over the "vague" affidavit filed by the Centre in the matter of Indo-Bangladesh border fencing, the top court said, "The statements made there (affidavit) are an exercise in vagueness with no specific details in spite of various orders of this court and passage of time."

The double bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and RF Nariman was anguished that in one of the paragraphs in the affidavit, the authority concerned of the Centre stated that it will take 18 months to complete the work on a stretch of 13.38 km without giving any reason.

The bench directed the competent authority of the Home Ministry to furnish all details and give justification for the stand taken in two paragraphs of the affidavit. The apex court was dealing with the issue of border fencing concerning Assam. The bench, which pulled up the Centre for "playing with the court", said, "This is regrettable and this court expresses its serious dissatisfaction over the type of the affidavit.

We are extremely unhappy why this type of an affidavit has been filed." The bench perused the affidavit after advocate Somiran Sharma, appearing for the NGO, Assam Sanmilita Mahasabha, which had filed the petition in 2012 on the issue of illegal migrant influx from Bangladesh, drew its attention about such submission by the Centre.

The apex court had in 2014 passed a detailed verdict with a slew of directions to check the influx of illegal migrants through India-Bangladesh border and had directed the Centre to take various steps like border fencing, construction of border roads, night patrolling, floodlighting and a scheme for deportation in consultation with Bangladesh.

The Centre's affidavit stated that in Assam, the construction of border fence along the Indo-Bangladesh border has been sanctioned in two phases and under the Phase--1, 149.29 km of fencing has been completed during the period 1986-2000.

Under Phase--11, 77.57 km of fencing has been sanctioned with upgrades in design, out of which 74.46 km has been completed, it said, adding that out of the 263 km of the Indo-Bangladesh border in Assam, 201.51 km of border is already covered by physical barrier, i.e fence and 61.49 km remains.

The bench was furious with the content of the affidavit which stated that "out of these 61.49 km balance border length, 13.38 km is planned to be covered by physical barrier and 48.11 km by non-physical barrier. The work in 13.38 km (excluding an elephant corridor of 0.30 km) has been undertaken and it is likely to be completed by July 2018."
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