NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court is set to commence hearings on December 5, focusing on the constitutional validity of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, a provision specific to addressing the issue of illegal immigrants in Assam. This provision was a special measure to deal with the citizenship status of individuals covered by the Assam Accord.
According to Section 6A, those who arrived in Assam between January 1, 1966, and March 25, 1971, from specified territories, including Bangladesh, and have been residents since then, must register themselves under Section 18 for citizenship. The provision effectively establishes March 25, 1971, as the cut-off date for granting citizenship to Bangladeshi migrants in Assam.
The five-judge constitution bench, consisting of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, Justices Surya Kant, M M Sundresh, J B Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra, will preside over the hearings starting on Tuesday, as per the cause list on the apex court's website.
In a September 20 order, the court specified that the proceedings' title would be "In Re: Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955." The court also outlined that the contesting parties would include those challenging the constitutional validity of Section 6A and those supporting its validity, including the Union of India and the State of Assam.
Various petitions related to this issue are pending in the apex court. The Assam Accord, signed in 1985 by the All Assam Students Union, the Assam government, and the Government of India, aimed to detect and deport foreigners from Assam. Section 6A was subsequently inserted into the Citizenship Act to facilitate the granting of citizenship to those who migrated to Assam.
In 2012, a Guwahati-based NGO challenged Section 6A, asserting that it is arbitrary, discriminatory, and unconstitutional. The NGO argued that the provision establishes different dates for regularizing illegal migrants in Assam. The matter was referred to a Constitution bench in 2014 by a two-judge bench, setting the stage for the upcoming hearings.