A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court of India challenging rules and notifications which regularise the entry and stay in India, of people from six communities which claim to be victims of religious persecution in their own countries.
More specifically, the petition, filed by the Nagarikatwa Aain Songsudhan Birodhi Mancha (Forum Against Citizenship Act Amendment Bill), challenges the Passport (Entry into India) Amendment Rules, 2015; The Foreigners (Amendment) Order, 2015 and SO 4132 dated 23/12/2016 issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The Passport (Entry into India) Amendment Rules, 2015 exempt from the requirement of a passport to enter India, people belonging to minority communities in Bangladesh and Pakistan, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, who were compelled to seek shelter in India due to religious prosecution or fear of religious persecution. The Rules state that these people should have entered India on or before December 31, 2014.
The Foreigners (Amendment) Order, 2015 grants exemption from provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 to the same set of people, as exempted by the Passport (Entry into India) Amendment Rules, 2015.
The impugned SO confers upon certain authorities the power vested in the Central government for registration as a citizen of India under Section 5 or for grant of certificate of naturalization under Section 6 of the Citizenship Act, 1955, in respect of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, now residing in the States of Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh and Union territory of Delhi.
The petition claims that these sub-ordinate legislations have diluted the meaning of an “illegal migrant”, as defined under Section 2(b) of The Citizenship Act, 1955, without first amending this provision.
The petition, in fact, claims that the entire concept of distinguishing between citizens and non-citizens on the basis of religion is “communally altered humanitarianism” and goes against secularism.
“The sub-ordinate legislations impugned herein are however, unprecedented, in the sense that never before has religion been specifically identified in the citizenship law as the ground for distinguishing between citizens and non-citizens. It has introduced religion as a new principle into the citizenship law and can be conveniently branded as “communally motivated humanitarianism.”
“The illegal immigrants who are to be granted the benefit of this legislation are to qualify for citizenship only on the basis of religion; a requirement that goes against one of the basic tenets of the Indian Constitution, secularism,” it explains.
The other contentions put forth by the petition include:
The petition then contends, “…the scheme of the Constitution of India does not anywhere provide for giving shelter to any illegal immigrant who have stealthily sneaked in through the border and settled down in the territory of India. As a matter of fact no where in the world would one find any legal provision which seeks to shelter foreigners who have illegally entered that country. The only exception is perhaps Israel which is a “Jewish State” and offers the “right to return” to Jews from anywhere in the world.”
It, therefore, demands striking down of the impugned provisions, and also the constitution of a National Immigration Commission to frame a National Immigration Policy and a National Refugee Policy.
Read the Petition Here