A Depth Analysis of the Illegal Immigrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983

A Depth Analysis of the Illegal Immigrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983

Manmohit Bhalla_JudicateMe


This Blog is written by Manmohit Bhalla from KIIT School of Law, Odisha.  Edited by Ravikiran Shukre.



On October 15, 1983, the Government of India passed an Ordinance to set up courts for assurance of the inquiry whether an individual is or isn’t an unlawful migrant. which was further, followed up as an Act in the month in December, named as, the, Illegal Immigrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983. The Act characterized an illicit outsider as an individual, who entered the Indian soil, wrongfully, after the freedom of East Pakistan for example 25th March, 1971 or an individual who is a ‘foreigner’ or one who has entered ‘with no appropriate legitimate and legal travel documents’. Herein, it is exceptionally critical to express that the Act was not material to any of the illicit workers who invaded the Indian grounds, before 1971, subsequently, was a significant misfortune and constraint on its uphold capacity.


Further, this Act was solely pertinent in the territory of Assam and for the remainder of the nation, Foreigner Act of 1946 was to be applied, consequently, at one time two laws were set up to decide the legitimacy of a resident and the most tragic thought is this that there was no individual from Parliament from the Assam’s Brahmaputra Valley, when this Act was postponed and along these lines passed.

Alongside this, the best oddity which was delivered was this that under the Foreigners Act, the risk or the onus to verification that one isn’t an unlawful worker was on the blamed yet under this Act it was on the Complainant, wherein, the Police specialists had the duty to not just distinguish such faculty’s (on the grievance documented through an individual through the statement of a charges of 10 Rs.), yet in addition to confirmation in the official courtroom, the wrongness of the said individual; subsequently, delivering the cycle of ID, preliminary and conviction of an illicit outsider to be amazingly awkward and basically unfeasible and non-practical in its application which is obvious, as just 7,854 Bangladeshis confronted indictment under the IMDT Act in 2001, 5,652 out of 2002 and 26,796 of every 2003, against the Foreigners Act of 1946, under which, 300,000 Bangladeshi’s extradited somewhere in the range of 1962 and 1984. Alongside this, at whatever point an objection was documented the charged used to change his living arrangement to get away from the preliminary hence, entangling the conglomeration of the quagmire.


The Foreigners Act, 1946 characterizes an outsider as an individual who isn’t a resident of India. Area 9 of the Act expresses that, where the identity of an individual isn’t apparent according to going before segment 8, the onus of demonstrating whether an individual is an outsider or not, will lie upon such individual. Nonetheless, under the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) (IMDT) Act, the weight of demonstrating the citizenship or in any case laid on the informer and the police, not the charged. This was a significant take-off from the arrangements of the Foreigners Act, 1946. The informer must live inside a 3 km sweep of the charged, round out a grievance structure (a limit of ten for every informer is permitted) and pay an expense of ten Rupees. On the off chance that a presumed illicit transient is hence effectively blamed, he is required by the Act to just deliver an apportion card to demonstrate his Indian citizenship. What’s more, if a case made it past these prerequisites, an arrangement of councils comprised of resigned judges would at long last settle on removal dependent on the realities. The demonstration additionally gave that ‘if the application is discovered unimportant or vexatious’ the Central Government may not acknowledge it. It rejected the travellers who entered India before March 25, 1971 from the illicit relocation allegation. Also, for post-1971 transients as well, the system for expelling were extreme. As indicated by this demonstration an illicit transient is an individual who:

(I) entered India on or after March 25, 1971.

(ii) was an outsider

(iii) entered India without being in control of a substantial identification or other travel archives or some other legitimate power.

Statements 4 and 9 of the IMDT Act said the individuals who preceded March 25, 1971 would not go under the domain of the go about as the issue of such cases ‘has been left for arrangements.’ Be that as it may, even on account of post-1971 travellers the strategies were intentionally kept lumbering. For example, the Act accommodated two people living inside a sweep of 3 km of a speculated unlawful transient to move toward an IMDT Tribunal, store an entirety Rs 25 and afterward record a grievance. (The three km limitation was hence adjusted and now the complainant could be from a similar police headquarters limits as the denounced, while the store entirety was diminished to Rs 10). In any case, the most argumentative arrangement of the demonstration was the condition that the onus of demonstrating the citizenship qualifications of an individual being referred to lies with the complainant and the police, not on the denounced. Under the Foreigners Act winning in the remainder of the nation, the onus is justifiably on the denounced. To top everything, the demonstration likewise gave that ‘if the application is discovered unimportant or vexatious’ the Central Government may not acknowledge it. So, the nation had two enemy of migration acts. By rejecting the IMDT Act, the Supreme Court has eliminated the abnormality.


In Sarbananda Sonowal v. Union of India [AIR (2005) SC 2920], the Hon’ble Supreme Court struck down the polemical Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983, (“I.M.D.T. Act”) on grounds of infringement of Articles 14 and 355 of the Constitution. This case can be viewed as original on the grounds that the law around there is simple and ensuing appointed authorities will perpetually look to this case to illuminate perplexing jurisprudential issues that would normally emerge, particularly given the way that liberal majority rule governments the world over will undoubtedly confront heap issues emerging out of migration. This note, while concurring with a definitive choice, tries to investigate the legitimate elements of the case and study the basis offered by the Supreme Court in striking down the Act. In the initial segment, a concise foundation to the case is given. In the subsequent part, the note talks about the choice of the Supreme Court and afterward attempts offer conceivable elective grounds on which this Act would not pass the gather of protected legitimacy.


The IMDT act is an act that deals with the proceedings for an illegal migrant, this law was brought into force in the year 1983 and was struck down by the supreme court in the year 2005 on the grounds that it directly infringed the article 14 and article 355 of the constitution, this judgement was held in the case of Sarbananda Sonowal V Union Of India. The illegal migrants’ determination by tribunal act 1983 stated that any person who entered India after march 1971, who entered India legally, stayed after the expiry of the passport is considered to be an illegal migrant, the rules indicated that it was made especially for people who entered the state of Assam from Bangladesh on or after 25 march 1971 and for their reporting and deportation. However, this act was never committed for conferment of citizenship, when this act was struck down it was not just because of its provisions rather it was also because of its jurisdiction as the IMDT act was only applicable to the state of Assam.


The conclusion which one can draw from this article with respect to the IMDT act 1983 is that this act was made solely for the purpose of protection , identification, and deportation of the illegal migrants the act provided for the conditions in which a person shall be termed as illegal migrant , and also stated for the provisions as what has to be done for with that person and with the provisions of this act it laid for the setting up of tribunals for the same issue, this act however had a very minimal deportation rate and even conviction as the statistics claim, therefore it was a topic for debate throughout the country but it was in the case of Sarbananda sonowal v Union of India when the supreme court was dealing with the issues as it was claimed to be violative of Article 14 and Article 355 of the Indian constitution, the supreme court in its judgement said that as it was only applicable for the state of Assam it was held that it was prima facie violative of the constitution and hence the court in the same case struck down the IMDT act as it found it violative under article 14 and article 355 of the Indian constitution. But the question which comes in the mid after knowing about this fact is that the problem of illegal migrants is Assam is still a big issue and is very important to be resolved as it is harming the culture and the diversity of the state of Assam, so when is it that the state will get an act which can precisely solve the problem and also be an unbiased and a law backed act.


(1) http://legislative.gov.in/sites/default/files/A1983-39.pdf

(2) https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/topic/IMDT-Act

(3) http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-2307-imdt-act-1983-the-forging-of-the-foreigners-tribunal.html

(4) https://www.jstor.org/stable/44306657

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