In a pivotal legal development, the Supreme Court is poised to commence hearings on December 5 to scrutinize the constitutional validity of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, which addresses the citizenship status of illegal immigrants in Assam. This specific provision, added to the Citizenship Act in 1985, is intricately connected to the Assam Accord, a historic pact signed in 1985 to identify and repatriate foreigners in the region.
Section 6A specifies that individuals who arrived in Assam between January 1, 1966, and March 25, 1971, from designated regions, including Bangladesh, are required to register for citizenship under Section 18 if they have been residing in Assam since then. The provision establishes March 25, 1971, as the cutoff date for conferring citizenship upon Bangladeshi migrants in Assam.
A five-judge constitution bench, led by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and including Justices Surya Kant, M M Sundresh, J B Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra, is slated to hear the case, officially titled "In Re: Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955."
The proceedings, initiated by various parties challenging the constitutional validity of Section 6A, were acknowledged by the Supreme Court in September. The bench clarified that contesting parties would encompass those challenging the provision's constitutionality and those, including the Union of India and the State of Assam, supporting its validity.
Several petitions addressing this matter are currently pending in the Supreme Court, with a non-governmental organization based in Guwahati initiating the challenge in 2012. The organization contends that Section 6A is arbitrary, discriminatory, and unconstitutional, primarily due to its establishment of distinct dates for regularizing the status of illegal migrants in Assam. In 2014, a two-judge panel referred the case to the Constitution bench for further deliberation.
This legal scrutiny stems from the objectives outlined in the Assam Accord, emphasizing the identification and repatriation of foreigners. Section 6A was incorporated into the Citizenship Act to facilitate the grant of citizenship to individuals who migrated to Assam in line with the accord's provisions. The outcome of these hearings is anticipated to have far-reaching implications for the legal framework governing citizenship in the context of Assam's complex immigration history.
Case: In Re: Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955.
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