Sec 6A validity pleas: SC directions likely today | India News

GUWAHATI: The Constitution bench of the Supreme Court is on Tuesday likely to issue directions on a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, which gives separate cut-off dates for granting Indian nationality to illegal migrants in Assam that are different from the rest of the country.
The five-member Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, had in its last hearing on December 13, 2022 asked the counsel of the contesting parties to segregate the pending cases into distinct categories “for directions” on January 10. The matter relating to citizenship in Assam was first referred to the five-judge Constitution bench on December 17, 2014. The apex court constituted the bench to hear the case on April 19, 2017.
The National Register for Citizens (NRC), a list of Indian citizens containing all the necessary information for their identification, was first formulated following the 1951 national census.
The Assam NRC is meant to identify illegal immigrants in the state who migrated from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971.
In 1985, the Indian government and the representatives of the Assam Movement negotiated and drafted the Assam Accord and created categories of immigrants.
The NRC exercise in Assam was carried out under Section 6A of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the rules framed in the Assam Accord 1985.
Section 6A of the Act was introduced to give effect to the Assam Accord. It gives “special provisions as to citizenship of persons covered by the Assam Accord’ and was inserted by amending the Citizenship Act in 1985 in consonance with the Assam Accord signed on August 15, 1985 between the Centre, the Assam government and AASU at the end of a six-year-long anti-foreigners’ movement. Section 6A provides the framework to recognise migrants in Assam as Indian citizens or to expel them on the basis of the date of their migration.
The section provides that those who have migrated to Assam prior to January 1, 1996 were to be regularised. Those who migrated to the state between January 1, 1966 and March 24, 1971 from Bangladesh would have all the rights except the right to vote for 10 years. As a result, the provision fixes March 25, 1971 as the cut-off date for granting citizenship to Bangladeshi migrants in Assam.
The Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha, a Guwahati-based civil society organisation, challenged Section 6A way back in 2012 on the grounds that it was discriminatory, arbitrary and illegal as it provides different cut-off dates for regularising illegal migrants in Assam and the rest of India. It also sought the court’s interference opposing the updating of the NRC based on the electoral rolls of 1971.
Petitioner and working president of the Mahasangha, Motiur Rahman, who has been entrusted with the task of handling all four cases by 102 native tribal organisations, said a two-judge bench of Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman and Ranjan Gogoi held lengthy hearings in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 and referred them to a five-judge Constitution bench for a final trial.
Rahman said, “The five-judge Constitution bench will finalise the matters of the case on January 10 on the advice of Attorney General Rajagopalan Venkatramani and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and pass the order confirming the date of the non-stop hearing of the Constitution Bench. We are hopeful that the Constitution Bench will give justice. Whether the base year of foreigners’ identification and the base year of NRC will be 1951 or 1971 will be decided by the Constitution bench,” Rahman said.
The Bangladesh liberation war which led to the independence of Bangladesh from Pakistan witnessed a massive influx of migrants to India. Even before Bangladesh gained independence from East Pakistan in 1971, migration had started to India.
On March 19, 1972, Bangladesh and India entered into a treaty for friendship, cooperation and peace.

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