Declining to stay the operation of a Presidential order which petitioners claimed deprived Assam the powers to notify its districts as “inner line areas” and limit the applicability of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the Supreme Court Wednesday issued notice to the Centre and said it will hear the matter again after two weeks.
Representing petitioners All Tai Ahom Students Union and its assistant secretary Gojen Gogoi, senior advocate Vikas Singh told the bench of Chief Justice of India S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy that the Adaptation of Laws (Amendment) Order, 2019, issued by the President to amend the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, deserved to be stayed.
The bench, however, said it will also have to hear what the other side (government) has to say on the matter.
The petitioner said BEFR empowered the state to bring most districts in Assam under the inner line area – ILP is a must if outsiders, including people of other states, wish to visit a state which has inner line rules in place. It also provides protection to local residents when it comes to land, jobs and other facilities.
“Once these districts had come under ‘the inner line’ area, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 could not be implemented to the extent of granting citizenship to illegal immigrants in Assam in view of Section 6B (4) of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019”, the petition stated.
It contended that “the State of Assam after declaring the inner line could have restricted a class of citizens from entering into ‘the inner line’ areas of Assam”.
It said that after notifying the inner line area, anyone who is not a native of that area could not have purchased any property there without permission of the authorities concerned.
The Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, the petition stated, could have been the answer to tackle the problems of illegal immigrants which Assam and its citizens are facing today.
“First of all, none of the illegal immigrants of Assam would have got Citizenship under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019. Further, even if those illegal immigrants would have moved to other states to claim their citizenship, they could have been restricted or cross checked to enter into Assam and these class of citizens could have been restricted to own land in the state of Assam. However, instead of putting an end to the years of problems which the state of Assam is facing due to the huge influx of illegal immigrants, the central government and state government, for their own vested political interests, put the state into a bigger problem in most unconstitutional and illegal manner,” it stated, calling the 2019 Presidential order violative of the Constitution.
The Adaptation of Laws (Amendment) Order, 2019 extended the ILP regime to Manipur – it is the fourth state after Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram where the ILP regime is applicable.
The petitioners have pointed out that Kamrup, Darrang, Nowgong, Sibsagar, Lakhimpur and Cachar in Assam were moved from the purview of BEFR just before the grant of assent to CAA.
Palash Changmai, general secretary of the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) which is one of the petitioners, said: “We had petitioned the Supreme Court against the change in the British-era law and the way it was done. If we had the ILP, we would have been exempted from CAA. But they removed the districts of Assam from the law through their notification.”
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