The Supreme Court has admitted a Special Leave Petition (No 17762/2016) on Chakma and Hajong settlers in Arunachal Pradesh lodged by Arunachal Pradesh government, for hearing.
The petition was filed by the Government of Arunachal Pradesh against the judgment of Gauhati High Court, which was in favour of the Chakma and Hajong settlers in Arunachal Pradesh. This was stated in an official communique.
Earlier, the Gauhati High Court in its judgment on March 19, 2013 had held that the Chakmas and Hajongs in Arunachal Pradesh would not require Inner Line Permit (ILP) and it would be deemed that such permits had been granted to them. However, the State government had assailed the said judgment and approached the Supreme Court for reprieve.
The petition was listed before the Supreme Court on Monday and after hearing the arguments, the apex court admitted it for hearing after being satisfied that the issues raised by the State government required a detailed hearing.
The apex court rejected the objections raised by advocates appearing for the Chakma representatives with regard to the delay in filing the SLP. It observed that nothing prevented the Court from admitting a case even if there was a delay.
A communiqué received from the State’s Additional Advocate General, who is appearing for the State government, stated that the admission of the SLP means that the government will now be able to raise all issues pertaining to the constitutional protection given to the indigenous tribes of Arunachal Pradesh besides minute examination by the apex court of all grounds raised by the State government during the final hearing.
This also entitles the government to bring to the notice of the Court the rapid artificial demographic alterations that is taking place in a sensitive frontier state of the country due to large-scale influx of Chakmas and Hajongs.
The State Government through SLP had contested the High Court’s judgment seeking the Supreme Court’s intervention in the constitutional validity of legal statutes such as the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873, the Assam Frontier Tract Regulation of 1880 and the Chin Hills Regulations of 1896, which were put in place to protect the indigenous tribes of the hill areas of the North East India.
Under the provisions of Article 29 of the Constitution of India provides that, any section of the citizens residing in any part of the territory of India shall have the right to conserve their distinct language, script or culture. The requirement of ILP for entering Arunachal Pradesh was made primarily for the purpose of preserving the culture, customs, traditions and way of life of the indigenous tribes of the State.