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Supreme Court to decide on constitutional validity of Citizenship Act’s Section 6A: What this section is?

The Supreme Court will also rule on the constitutionality of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act: The purpose of this paragraph. One of the key provisions of the Assam Accord, which defines who is a foreign national in the state and serves as the foundation for the final National Register of Citizens in Assam, which was published in 2019, is being argued before the Supreme Court.

When hearing the petitions, a Supreme Court Constitution Bench declared on Tuesday that it would first decide whether Section 6A of the Citizenship Act is constitutionally valid before moving on to other issues raised in the petitions. What exactly is this Section?

The Assam Accord, also signed in 1985 by the Rajiv Gandhi administration and the All Assam Students’ Union at the end of a six-year agitation against the main influx of migrants from Bangladesh into the state, is largely responsible for questions about citizenship, “illegal immigrants,” and “indigenous Assamese” citizens in Assam.

The petition before the Supreme Court’s Constitutional bench challenges both the foundation of the final National Register of Main Citizens in Assam, which was published in 2019, and one of the key provisions of the Accord, which determines who is a foreign national in the state.

According to Clause 5 of the Assam Accord, the baseline cut-off date for identifying and expelling “foreigners” is January 1, 1966, but Clause 5 also includes provisions for the regularisation of people who arrived in the main state after that date and up until March 24, 1971. After lengthy discussions, stakeholders agreed on the 1971 cut-off.

To reflect this, Section 6 A of the Citizenship Act was amended. In essence, Section 6 A establishes March 24, 1971 as the date of entry into the state; anyone entering the state after that date is considered a “illegal immigrant.”

Despite being classified as “foreigners,” those who arrived in Assam from Bangladesh on or after January 1, 1966 but before March 25, 1971 are required to register in accordance with Central Government regulations. They would have the same rights and also obligations as Indian citizens for ten years after being identified as foreigners, with the exception of being listed on the electoral rolls for any assembly or parliamentary constituency. They were to be treated as citizens at the end of ten years.

With this primary cut-off date of March 24, 1971, the final Assamese National Register of Citizens was conducted and published in 2019.

Supreme Court: A requirement

The case before the constitutional bench questions the constitutionality of Section 6 A and requests that the cutoff date for inclusion in the National Register of Citizens be set in 1951 rather than 1971. The Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha (ASM) is the primary petitioner.

Will first decide constitutionality of section 6A of Citizenship Act: SC- The New Indian Express

It describes itself as a supporter of the rights of Assamese “indigenous” communities. Their main contention is that Section 6 A violates the rights of “indigenous” Assamese people and is “discriminatory, arbitrary, and illegal” because it establishes a different cut-off date for main Indian citizenship in Assam than the rest of India, which is July 1948.

In their petition, which they filed more than ten years ago and finally submitted in 2012, they assert that “the application of Section 6-A to the State of Assam alone has also led to a perceptible change in the main demographic pattern of the State and also has reduced the main people of Assam to a minority in their own State. The same is harmful to the state’s economic and political well-being and acts as a powerful impediment to the populace’s ability to preserve their culture, exercise political influence, and find work.

Matiur Rahman, the ASM’s Working President, stated that the group is considering updating the NRC in accordance with the terms requested by them, based on an order made by a two-judge bench led by the then-chief justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi. This is true even though Assam’s final NRC was published in 2019.

According to the order, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) will be updated “subject to orders as may be passed by the main Constitution Bench in main Writ Petition (C) No.562 of 2012 and also Writ Petition (C) No.311 of 2015,” on December 13, 2019.

“By choosing the date of Bangladesh’s independence in violation of the main Constitution, the AASU has gone against the indigenous tribes of Assam by primarily favouring the 70-80 lakh Hindu and also Muslim Bengalis and Nepalis who fled from primarily East Pakistan over the main course of those years and also illegally occupied indigenous tribes’ and government lands,” Rahman claims.

What questions does Section 6 A pose?

On December 17, 2014, a two-judge panel comprised of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Rohinton issued an order outlining 13 questions regarding Section 6 A for the constitutional bench to consider as it heard the ASM’s 2012 petition.

Assam Accord: SC to hear challenge to Sec 6A of Citizenship Act

Is Section 6A of the Citizenship Act in violation of Articles 10 and also 11 of the Indian Constitution by prescribing a cutoff date that differs from the one specified in Article 6 without doing so in a “variation” of Article 6? This question should be addressed in light of the phraseology of Article 4 (2) as read in conjunction with Article 368. (1).

(ii) Whether current Section 6A’s restriction of political rights of Assamese citizens violates Articles 325 and 326 of the Indian Constitution;

(iii) What does Article 29(1) define as a fundamental right? Is the fundamental right protected by its terms? What exactly do the terms “culture” and “conservation” mean? Section 6A violates Article 29(1)?

(iv) Does Section 6A violate Article 355? What exactly does Article 355 of the Constitution mean? What constitutes “external aggression” and/or “internal disturbance” if an unauthorised immigration wave hits an Indian state? Is the term “State,” as used in this Article, referring to a physical region or to all of its citizens, including their culture and identity?

(v) Whether the discrimination in Section 6A against Assam and other border states violates Article 14. (which form a different class). Whether there is a reason to regularise illegal immigrants who enter Assam first, as well as whether there is a reason to regularise them first; and

(vi) Whether Section 6A violates Article 21 because a significant number of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh have harmed the quality of life and right to privacy of Assamese citizens.

(vii) Is it possible to consider delay when deciding how to respond to a petition filed in accordance with Article 32 of the Constitution?

(viii) After a large number of East Pakistani immigrants have enjoyed rights as Indian citizens for more than 40 years, is there any relief that can be granted in the current cases?

(ix) Does Section 6A’s provision, which grants dual citizenship to East Pakistani nationals who allegedly have not lost their citizenship but are instead considered Indian citizens, violate the Constitution and the Citizenship Act?

(x) Does Section 6A’s provision allowing some migrants to obtain Indian citizenship without Bangladeshi reciprocity or by taking the oath of current allegiance to the Indian Constitution violate the core values of the Citizenship Act (as it existed in 1985)?

SC to decide validity of Sec 6A of Citizenship Act- The New Indian Express

(xi) Is the Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act, 1950, a special law pertaining to immigrants into Assam, the only one that can apply to East Pakistan/Bangladesh immigrants, or the general Foreigners Act and also the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964 made thereunder?

(xii) Is Section 6A unconstitutional because it prioritises political expediency over legitimate government?

(xiii) Does Section 6A violate fundamental rights by granting deemed citizenship to some people arbitrarily because there is no system in place to determine which people have regularly resided in Assam since their entry dates?

edited and proofread by nikita sharma



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