SC hearing on citizenship for illegal migrants' children to be held in May

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said a constitution bench would in May hear the question whether the children of illegal migrants born here can avail the benefit of citizenship under the existing law. A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar said that four constitution benches would sit during the summer vacations, scheduled from 11 May to 1 July, to hear contentious issues, including triple talaq, constitutional validity of Aadhaar and status of children of illegal Bangladeshi migrants to Assam.

 SC hearing on citizenship for illegal migrants children to be held in May

Representational image. Reuters

Besides, the larger bench would also deal with the issue of constitutional validity of section 6A of the Citizenship Act with regard to the cut-off date for awarding citizenship to the Bangladeshi migrants. "We will have four constitution bench (during summer vacations). This matter will be one of them," the bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul, said. At the outset, the bench told the petitioners, "You do not seem to be serious. You are taking it very casually".

The parties in the case contended before the bench that they were ready to argue the matter during the vacation. "Counsel for the parties agrees that this matter be posted for hearing in the vacations. Let it be fixed for 11 May," the bench said. In July 2015, another bench of the apex court had referred the question for adjudication by a constitutional bench. "We are referring to the Constitution bench the question as to the whether the children of illegal migrants would get the benefit of Section 3 of the Citizenship Act, as amended," the bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi had said.

The bench, which was hearing various pleas arising out of its verdict on PILs on influx of illegal Bangladeshi migrants to Assam, had decided to keep monitoring the implementation of its directions. It had earlier passed a slew of directions, including an order to the Centre to complete the fencing work along the India-Bangladesh border within three months to check cross-border influx of illegal Bangladesh nationals into Assam and streamline the process to deport them back. The apex court had also laid down a time-table for updating of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam so that the entire updated register is published by the end of January, 2016.

It had earlier appointed a panel of three former High Court judges, headed by Justice Aftab H Saikia, to monitor the NRC updation. The apex court had also asked NRC to consider the request
for registration by persons in Assam who were not residents of the state till 24 March, 1971, if they provide proof of their citizenship of other Indian states. In December 2014, the apex court had referred to a larger bench the issue of constitutional validity of section 6A of the Citizenship Act with regard to the cut-off date for awarding citizenship to the migrants.

It had asked the Centre to detect and deport all illegal migrants who have come to Assam after 25 March, 1971 and hold discussions with the Bangladesh government to ensure that illegal migrants are sent back. It had ruled that the foreigners, who came to India between 1 January, 1966 to 24 March, 1971, be awarded citizenship as per law.

The apex court's verdict had come on the pleas of Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha, Assam Public Works and All Assam Ahom Association filed in the aftermath of large-scale riots in 2012 and 2014 resulting in the death of a large number of persons. In their writ petition, the petitioners have said the sovereignty and integrity of India is itself at stake as a massive influx of illegal migrants from a neighbouring country has affected the core constitutional value.

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Updated Date: Feb 21, 2017 18:36:50 IST