Supreme Court: The coram comprising of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, C.J., and M.R. Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and P.S. Narasimha J.J., heard a batch of petitions on 10-01-2023 pertaining to primary question whether Section 6-A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 suffers from any Constitutional infirmity.
In the matter at hand, the petitioners came in the representative capacity of a majority of the indigenous tribal and non-tribal people living in Assam before the bench. The main contention of the petitioners is that Section 6-A of the Citizenship Act,1955 inserted into the principal Act vide The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1985 to be repealed and declared ultra-vires the Constitution of India.
It was contended that Assam has been facing a silent invasion for decades. It was feared of being extinct in the hands of illegal immigrants coming from erstwhile East Pakistan and present Bangladesh.
It was further contended that if Section 6-A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 was not struck off being as being ultra vires, then it would be impossible to free Assam from the clutches of illegal immigrants, who have entered Assam in view of the impugned provisions of the Citizenship (Amended) Act, 1985.
The petitioners posed multiple issues for consideration before the Supreme Court:
a. Whether Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 suffers from any constitutional infirmity?
b. Whether the reason that immigrants from East Pakistan have enjoyed rights of citizens for over 40 years, can be a ground for grant of any relief?
c. Whether the Assam Accord-a Memorandum of Settlement between the Union of India, the State of Assam, All Assam Students Union, and All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad arrived at for resolving a long pending issue-being a political settlement and a matter of great policy importance can at all be judicially reviewed at this stage, as Courts will decline to enter into the ‘political thicket’ and annul matters of such magnitude and with immense consequences?
d. Whether delay is a factor that can be taken into account in fashioning reliefs in a petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, 1950?
e. Whether the Immigrants (Expulsions from Assam) Act, 1940 being a special enactment qua immigrants into Assam, alone can apply to immigrants from East Pakistan/Bangladesh to the exclusion of the general Foreigners Act and the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964 made thereunder?
f. Whether the children born in India to illegal migrants who have migrated after 25 March 1971 from the specified territories in Assam are entitled to be granted citizenship?
The petitioners contended that due to lack of political will to tackle such external aggression by the Bangladeshi Nationals, the illegal immigrants continue to remain in Indian soil for past many years thereby posing serious threat to the question of identity of the indigenous people of Assam as well as security of the nation.
The petitioners categorically stated that it was not a communal or Hindu-Muslim issue, but an issue of foreign infiltrators who are inundating the land that for centuries has belonged to the Assamese and tribals.
“If the said Section 6-A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 is not struck off being ultra vires, it would be impossible to free Assam from the clutches of illegal immigrants, who have entered Assam in view of the impugned provisions of the aforesaid amended Act.” the petitioner’s submitted.
The matter has been adjourned for hearing soon.
[Assam Public Works v Union of India, Writ Petition (Civil) 274 of 2009, last heard on 10-01-2023]