Bangladeshi Migration, Political Exploitation, Judicial Overreach, and Legal Change

[Abstract] Following recent election campaign statements, migration from Bangladesh has again received national attention. For several reasons, including cultural affinity and a porous border, migration across Bengal’s borders has been constant. It fuelled ethnic conflict that prompted the Assam Accord in 1985 to bring a temporary peace. The IMDT Act, ostensibly enacted to secure fair deportations, caused more cynicism when it failed to result in mass removals. The Supreme Court struck down the IMDT Act in 2005, on questionable grounds, and then censured the government when the latter tried to replace it with executively created due process. Yet, it is precisely this due process, which is absent from the Foreigners Act, that is needed to temper the deportation power. Future legal changes, which look increasingly likely, must not lose sight of fairness and procedural safeguards.

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