Supreme Court asks Centre to provide data on grant of Indian citizenship to Bangladeshi immigrants in Assam

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Thursday directed the Centre to provide data on the number of Bangladeshi immigrants granted Indian citizenship in Assam between January 1, 1966 and March 25, 1971.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, which is hearing as many as 17 petitions to examine the constitutional validity of section 6A of the Citizenship Act relating to illegal immigrants in Assam, asked the state government to provide the data to the Centre for filing an affidavit before it by December 11.

The bench, also comprising justices Surya Kant, M M Sundresh, J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, asked the Centre to inform it about the steps taken to deal with illegal immigration into India, particularly the North Eastern states.

"We are of the considered view that it would be necessary for the central government to provide data-based disclosures to the court. We direct that an affidavit be filed to this court on or before Monday," the bench said.

It said the Centre's affidavit should deal with the number of immigrants from Bangladesh who were granted Indian citizenship under section 6A of the Act, while taking into account the number of people who migrated to India from the neighbouring country between January 1, 1966 and March 25, 1971.

"How many persons have been detected to be foreigners under the Foreigners Tribunals Order 1964 with reference to the above period?" the bench asked.

The bench also sought information about the steps taken to deal with illegal immigration into India, particularly the North East and the extent of border fencing there.

Earlier during the day, the bench asked the Centre as to why it had singled out Assam, while excluding West Bengal from the purview of section 6A of the Citizenship Act when the latter shares a much larger border with Bangladesh.

Section 6A of the Citizenship Act relates to illegal immigrants in Assam.

The hearing is currently underway.

Section 6A was inserted into the Citizenship Act as a special provision to deal with the citizenship of people covered under the Assam Accord.

It says those who came to Assam on or after January 1, 1966 but before March 25, 1971 from specified territories, including Bangladesh, in accordance with the Citizenship Act amended in 1985, and since then are residents of the northeastern state, must register themselves under section 18 for acquiring Indian 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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