Constitution bench to decide illegal Bangladeshi immigrants’ children status

New Delhi, July 21 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Tuesday referred to the constitution bench the question whether the children born to illegal Bangladeshi immigrants were Indian citizens by virtue of their being born here.

Section 3 of the Citizenship Act provides for citizenship by birth.

Referring the issue, a bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman passed a series of directions to streamline the updating of the National Register of Citizen that is being updated in Assam and reiterated that it has to be complete by January 1, 2016,

This is the second matter on the citizenship issue that the bench of Justice Gogoi and Justice Nariman has referred to the constitution bench.

By its December 17, 2014 judgment, it had asked the constitution bench to examine the validity of the act’s section 6A – enacted after Assam accord in 1985 – to determine “whether articles 10 and 11 of the constitution of India permit the enactment of section 6A of the Citizenship Act inasmuch as Section 6A, in prescribing a cut-off date different from the cut-off date prescribed in Article 6, can do so without a ‘variation’ of Article 6 itself”.

It had also identified 12 other issues to be addressed by the constitution bench in respect of section 6A.

In the directions issued on Tuesday for updating the National Register of Citizen (NRC), the court directed that that the process would be “strictly in terms of the provisions contained in the schedule of the Citizenship Registration of National Identity, 2003”.

The court further directed that the original inhabitants of Assam which would include T-tribe and all such original inhabitants would be included in the basis of proof required by the authorities beyond reasonable doubt.

It further said that any direction by the Registrar General of India should also be followed.

The court further clarified that any citizen who may have moved to Assam, subsequent to March 24, 1971 cut-off date, if he provides proof of his residence in any part of India would be included in the NRC.

To take care of any clarification that would be required to work out any modality for preparing the NRC, the court set up a three-member committee headed by Jammu and Kashmir’s High Court former chief justice, Aftab Hussain Saikia.

The other two members of the committee are Assam High Court’s former judges B. Biswas and J.N. Choudhury. The committee would be assisted by a member secretary, to be nominated by the Assma government.

The court’s order came on a batch of petitions by Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha, All Assam Ahom Association, Deepak Kumar Nath, Assam Public Works and others.

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