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Supreme Court reserves verdict on petitions challenging Section 6A of Citizenship Act 1955

The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its verdict on the batch of petitions challenging Section 6A of the Citizenship Act 1955.

The Constitution Bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice Surya Kant, Justice MM Sundresh, Justice JB Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra reserved the judgement after hearing the matter for four days.

On December 6, the Supreme Court rejected the argument, which compared Section 6A of the Citizenship Act to an amnesty scheme implemented for the benefit of illegal immigrants.

The Constitution Bench observed that when Section 6A was enacted, there was a different history and India had an important role to play in the Bangladesh liberation war.

The particular Section was partly introduced to remedy the atrocities committed on the population of East Bengal in the aftermath of the 1971 liberation war.

The Bench made the oral observation while hearing petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955, which concerns the grant of Indian citizenship to immigrants covered by the Assam accord.

The Apex Court said that Section 6A, therefore, cannot be likened to an amnesty scheme for illegal immigrants in general.

Section 6A of the Citizenship Act provided the people who entered India between January 1, 1966 and March 25, 1971 and have been living in Assam, with the option to register themselves as citizens of India.

Calling the incidence as ‘frozen in time,’ the Apex Court said that the validity of Section 6A could not be determined by political and other developments that arose after enactment of the Assam Accord.

Appearing for the All Assam Ahom Association and other petitioners, Senior Advocate Shyam Divan argued that Section 6A would still be completely bad by itself.

He contended that the amendment did not stand on its own legs, adding that since the law was not remedified in time, it resulted in Look at the influx and given a complete go by , it has been used as a shield.

The Bench rejected the argument on the grounds that there were historical reasons that triggered the insertion of Section 6A. It said if the Parliament had merely granted amnesty to a group of illegal immigrants, it would have been different situation.

On Day 1 of final hearing in a batch of petitions challenging the constitutionality of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, Divan argued that Section 6A of the Act violated Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution.

The Senior Counsel said these were political rights with respect to the citizens and there was destruction and undermining of these rights as well.

Arguing on the legislative competence aspect, he said the cultural rights of the border States could not be subverted completely as the same would have an impact on all States.

He urged the Apex Court to direct the Union government to frame a court-monitored policy for all States and Union Territories towards the settlement and rehabilitation of all the persons who came to Assam.

However, the top court of the country pointed out that Section 6A only concerned the Assam Accord. It asked Divan whether there was anything to show that the provision had led to an irreversible impact in the demographics of the north-eastern State.

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