Supreme Court advocate and convenor of Prabajan Virodhi Manch Upamanyu Hazarika has asked the people to closely follow the judgment on the writ petition filed by eight persons of Assam against the amendment of the Rules under Passport (Entry into India) Act and the Foreigners order pending in the Supreme Court as this would have a bearing on the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016.
As per the September 7, 2015 notification of the Union Home Ministry amending the Rules under the Passport (Entry into India) Act and the Foreigners order, religious minorities of neighbouring countries have been permitted to stay in India even without valid documents due to religious persecution or fear of religious persecution.
This is the same principle and policy on which the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 is based and a decision by the court on this issue will apply to the Amendment Bill as well once it becomes an Act.
The September 7, 2015 notification of the Union Ministry of Home regarding the amendment to the Passport (Entry into India) Act and the Foreigners order, has been challenged by Pranab Kumar Mazumdar, Biswaranjan Kalita, Santonu Das Borhazowal, Mukanda Chandra Goswami, Jogeswar Borah, Janaklal Basumatary, Jagat Kama and Tulsi Kumar Bordoloi, representing different ethnic communities of Assam through a writ petition, WP (C) 68 of 2016, which is pending before a Constitution Bench of five judges.
The petition filed in February, 2016 was referred to the Constitution Bench of five judges on March 10, 2016 and will be heard along with the petitions filed by Assam Public Works, Sanmilita Mahasabha where issues of the cut off year for foreigners, 1951 or 1971 and grant of citizenship by birth to children of foreigners in Assam till December 3, 2014 are pending for determination.
“This entire challenge on the foreigners issue is a legal one. It is by virtue of legal safeguards that foreigners have been able to entrench themselves in Assam, whether it is the IMDT Act and after its setting aside identification of citizens rather than foreigners going on under NRC is giving an opportunity to foreigners to become citizens,” Hazarika said.
He further said that the issues before the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court were fundamental to the survival of the indigenous people and it is important that the people of Assam follow the development before the Constitution Bench with utmost seriousness.