Begin typing your search above and press return to search.
Top Stories

CAA Does Not Violate Assam Accord & Cultural Rights Of People In North-East : Centre Tells Supreme Court

31 Oct 2022 6:08 AM GMT
CAA Does Not Violate Assam Accord & Cultural Rights Of People In North-East : Centre Tells Supreme Court

The Central Government has told the Supreme Court that the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 does not violate the cultural rights of the indigenous people in Assam and North Eastern States.

In an additional counter-affidavit filed in the Supreme Court specifically addressing issues raised in relation to North-Eastern states, the Ministry of Home Affairs said that "there is no provision in CAA which would affect the distinct language, script or culture of citizens of Assam and other North-Eastern States".

The MHA explained that the Act is intended to protect persons belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian communities who migrated from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan before the cut-off date of December 31, 2014. It added that the Act does not encourage influx of migrants and applies only to persons who entered India before the specified cut-off date.

"It is submitted that CAA does not encourage any future influx of foreigners into India as it applies to past events and has no application in futuro", the MHA said while affirming that it does not infringe the cultural rights of people of North-East under Article 29 of the Constitution.

The MHA added that to "uphold the spirit of Article 29 and keeping in view the concerns of the North Eastern States including Assam, a specific provision has been included in sub-section (4) of section 6B inserted by the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1955 to the effect that nothing in this section shall apply to tribal area of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the area covered under "The Inner Line" notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873".

CAA does not violate Assam Accord

The MHA refuted the concerns raised by All Assam Students Union and certain Assam-based petitioners that the CAA violates the Assam Accord 1985, which was signed to deal with the problem of influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh. It points out that CAA is intended to protect people who flee from the countries of Pakistan, Bangaldesh and Afghanistan out of fear of religious persecution. Same categories of persons are protected from expulsion in terms of proviso to Section 2 of the Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act, 1950 as well. Therefore, there is no conflict between CAA and the Assam Accord.

"It is, therefore, respectfully submitted that specific concerns with regard to Assam and the other North Eastern States have been taken into consideration by the legislature while enacting the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 and the provisions in the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 do not in any way violate the provisions of the Assam Accord or section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955".

Not excluding non-tribal areas of Assam from CAA does not result in discrimination

"It is submitted that the tribal areas of Assam and Tripura, which are the most vulnerable in terms of scant indigenous population, are falling within the excluded areas of the CAA. It is submitted that the said portions of Assam and Tripura are classified at par with the entire states of Mizoram, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh and almost entire states of Nagaland & Meghalaya being equally placed. It is submitted that with regard to the avowed object of the exclusion of certain areas from the CAA in order to protect the ethnic/linguistic rights and to protect them from getting swamped by large scale influx of migrants, the inclusion of non-tribal areas of Assam and Tripura in the CAA is not discriminatory as the said areas are not as thinly populated as other excluded areas and would not face the same consequences in case of immigration of persons," the affidavit stated.

CAA does not encourage illegal migration to Assam

The Centre stated that the CAA is a "narrowly tailored law" which has a specific cut-off date of 31.12.2014. Therefore, it covers only a specified category of persons. These migrants are already residing in India and the Amendment Act does not have any provision to provide for grant of citizenship to any migrants who would have come after 31.12.2014. Therefore, CAA does not in any way encourage illegal migration into Assam.

The Centre also reiterated its submissions made in an earlier affidavit filed in 2020 that the CAA does not warrant any judicial interference as it does not affect the legal, democratic or secular rights of any of the Indian citizens. It also reiterated that grant of citizenship is an incidence of sovereign function over which the power of judicial review is very limited.

Next Story