GUWAHATI: The Modi government in New Delhi, in trying to ‘tackle’ the illegal immigrant issue has only stirred up a hornet’s nest.
In Guwahati, senior high court advocate Kamal Nayan Choudhury is challenging the legality of the deadline of March 25, 1971 as the cut-off date for detecting and deporting the aliens of East Pakistan- or Bangladesh-origin in the Supreme Court.
Choudhary has a rather interesting line of argument. He says that the much-trumpeted Assam Accord is legally untenable. So is the section 6 A inserted into the citizenship act. Reason: it hasn’t been endorsed by Parliament. He contends that both the Indira-Mujib pact, which forms its basis on the issue of setting the deadline for detecting and deporting the East Pakistan or Bangladesh nationals, section 6A also has not been ratified by the Indian Parliament.
Article 253 of the Indian Constitution has made Parliament’s endorsement mandatory for any piece of agreement or treaty to attain legitimacy as a legal document.
Choudhary says that that to determine a new cut-off date for detection and deportation of the foreigners originating from erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), the country needs to amend Article 6 of its Constitution, which has fixed July 19, 1948 as the cut-off date for the purpose. But this amendment was not brought about, even as Section 6A was inserted in the country’s Citizenship Act, going against the provisions of Article 6 of the Constitution.
He further contends that this amendment to the Citizenship Act is a violation of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. This amendment was done on the basis of an artificial classification, bereft of any rationale. This classification was specially made for Assam, which is nothing but discriminatory. For example, in Meghalaya, if a person is a post-1951 migrant he/she would face deportation.
Again, Section 6A of the Citizenship Act is a violation of Article 29 of the Indian Constitution, which provides unqualified right to its citizens for preserving their own languages, cultures and scripts. The March 25, 1971 cut-off date for detecting and deporting the foreigners living in Assam has made many ineligible persons eligible to secure ‘deemed’ citizenship, in sheer violation of the above constitutional guarantee provided to the country’s indigenous peoples under Article 29. (This may be stretching the point a bit too far, because immigrants would need to learn and operate in the local language!)
The March 25, 1971 cut-off date has also violated Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, as this cut-off date is going to reduce the indigenous peoples of Assam into minorities in their own homeland. Besides, it has also violated Articles 325 and 326 of the Constitution, by conferring citizenship to the illegal migrants. (Choudhary is saying that the government should deport everybody who crossed the border into Assam since 1971, that’s 47 years ago! This isn’t an anti-Muslim rant, mind you. It goes to the very heart of the issue, Assamese resentment of the East Bengali ‘invasion’ of Assam.)
Section 6A of the Citizenship Act is also violation of Article 355 of the Indian Constitution, as instead of abiding by its bounden duty to save a state (in this case Assam) from the menace of illegal migration, the Government of India inserted this section in the Citizenship Act to legitimize the stay of the illegal migrants in Assam.
Moreover, the 1955 Citizenship Act of the country prescribes the procedure for acquisition of citizenship by registration. Clause (b) of Section 5 of this legislation has provided that a person of Indian origin, who “resides in any country other than undivided India are eligible for Indian citizenship.” Admittedly, Section 6A of the Citizenship Act confers ‘deemed’ citizenship to ‘persons from undivided India’ (presently Bangladesh) in utter violation of Section 5(b) of this Act.
These illegal migrants have been virtually conferred dual citizenship, as these migrants never renounced their East Pakistan or Bangladesh citizenship. These people, as required under the Citizenship Act of the country, have not taken any oath of allegiance to the Indian Constitution. Section 6A has been inserted into the Citizenship Act only for the political expediency of the rulers, says the senior high court advocate.