Supreme Court/ File pic
The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it will commence hearing on October 17 to examine the constitutional validity of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act relating to illegal immigrants in Assam. Section 6A in the Citizenship Act was inserted as a special provision to deal with the citizenship of people covered by the Assam Accord.
The provision provides that those who have come to Assam on or after January 1, 1966, but before March 25, 1971, from specified territories, including Bangladesh, as per the Citizenship Act amended in 1985, and since then are residents of Assam. They must register themselves under section 18 for citizenship.
As a result, the provision fixes March 25, 1971, as the cut-off date for granting citizenship to Bangladeshi migrants in Assam.
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A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud noted that nodal counsels have prepared common compilation in the matter. However, common compilation needs to be streamlined.
"A common index shall be prepared. The soft copy of the common compilation shall be prepared by October. Written submissions shall be filed by October 10," the bench also comprising Justices AS Bopanna, MM Sundresh, JB Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra said. The top court said the title of the proceedings shall be, "In Re: Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955."
The top court on December 13 had asked the counsel for the contesting parties to decide the issues for adjudication in a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act relating to illegal immigrants in Assam.
The counsel would segregate the cases which fall for decision before this court into distinct categories and the order in which the arguments are to be made, the bench had said, adding we will keep it for directions.
The bench had directed the apex court registry to provide scanned soft copies of the complete set of pleadings filed on the issue.
As many as 17 petitions, including the one filed by Assam Public Works in 2009, are pending on the issue in the apex court.
Prior to this, the Constitution bench had directed the parties to file joint compilations consisting of written submissions; precedents; and any other documentary material on which reliance will be placed at the time of the hearing. A common index shall be prepared in three separate volumes of the above compilations, it had said.
Under the Assam Accord signed by the All Assam Students Union, the Assam government and the Government of India on August 15, 1985, to detect and deport foreigners, Section 6A was inserted into the Citizenship Act to grant citizenship to people who have migrated to Assam.
A Guwahati-based NGO challenged section 6A in 2012, terming it arbitrary, discriminatory and unconstitutional claiming it provides different dates for regularising illegal migrants in Assam. A two-judge bench had referred the matter to the Constitution bench in 2014.
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