The Supreme Court on Monday declined to intervene “at this stage” on a petition challenging a series of subordinate laws notified by the government which allows naturalisation of illegal immigrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians fleeing religious persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
A bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Ashok Bhushan and S K Kaul observed that the Citizenship Amendment Bill is pending in Rajya Sabha, and that prayers in the petition would become infructuous if the Upper House passes it.
“If the Bill is passed by Rajya Sabha, nothing survives,” the bench said, but decided to keep the plea pending so that that the petitioner can raise it at the appropriate stage.
The petition filed by Nagarikatwa Aain Songsudhan Birodhi Mancha (platform against citizenship amendment Bill) and certain others had contended that the changes would increase “uncontrolled influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh to Assam”. They claimed that illegal immigration had led to demographic changes in Assam. The bench told the petitioner’s counsel, “If we hear you now and then Parliament passes it, then it becomes meaningless.”
The counsel replied that he will amend it in such an event. The court added that it will be better to keep it pending and examine in due course, depending on the outcome in Rajya Sabha.
The petition has termed the government’s move as “communally motivated humanitarianism”, and an attempt to differentiate “illegal immigrants” on the basis of their religion and grant them naturalisation.
The petition requested the court to declare changes made through the Passport (Entry into India) Amendment Rules, 2015; the Foreigners (Amendment) Order, 2015; and the order issued by the Home Ministry on December 26, 2016 under the Citizenship Act, allowing naturalisation of illegal immigrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, as “illegal and invalid”.
According to the petitioners, while religious persecution may, in the given facts and circumstances, be a reasonable principle for differentiation, it will cannot be against secular principles of citizenship followed in India, as this will violate constitutional morality.
The petition urged the court to ask the government to give shape to a National Immigration Commission or any other appropriate body to frame a National Immigration Policy and a National Refugee Policy, and to initiate steps for conservation and preservation of the culture, heritage and traditions of the indigenous people of Assam.