Section 6A of The Citizenship Act, 1955

Section 6A of The Citizenship Act, 1955

News: A Constitution Bench, under the leadership of the Chief Justice of India, is currently adjudicating petitions that challenge the constitutionality of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955.

• It was enacted as part of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1985.
• It originated from the Assam Accord of 1985, a tripartite agreement among the Central Government, the Assam State Government, and leaders of the Assam Movement, aiming to address the issue of illegal migration from Bangladesh.

What is the Assam accord?
• Signed in 1985, the Assam Accord introduced Section 6A exclusively for Assam in the Citizenship Act of 1955.
• It primarily targeted the large-scale migration before the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.
• It mandates the detection and deportation of foreigners who entered Assam after March 25, 1971, the date of Bangladesh’s creation.

• Citizenship Status for Pre-1966 Migrants - Persons of Indian origin arriving from Bangladesh before January 1, 1966, are deemed citizens of India as of that date.
• Registration Requirement for 1966-1971 Migrants - Individuals of Indian origin entering Assam between January 1, 1966, and March 25, 1971, detected as foreigners, needed to register. Citizenship granted after 10 years of residence, subject to specific conditions.
• Detection and Deportation for Post-1971 Entrants - Persons entering Assam after March 25, 1971, were to be identified and deported in accordance with the law.

Issues of Section 6A of Citizenship Act, 1955:

Violates Article 6 of Indian constitution:
• Petitioners contend that Section 6A may infringe on Article 6 of the Constitution.
• Article 6 addresses the citizenship of individuals migrating from Pakistan during the partition, offering automatic citizenship to those who migrated before July 19, 1949.
• It raises questions about the legal and constitutional validity of Section 6A.

Article 14 Implications
• Critics argue that Section 6A could violate Article 14, which guarantees the right to equality. It is perceived as discriminatory for singling out Assam with specific citizenship criteria.

Entry of illegal migrants
• Section 6A’s citizenship grant is criticized for allegedly contributing to an influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh into Assam. It also raises concerns about unintended consequences, encouraging illegal migration, and its impact on the state’s demographic composition.

Demographic transition and impact of state’s culture
• Petitioners contend that the provisions of Section 6A have resulted in a significant cultural impact, contributing to a transformation that threatens the traditional identity of Assam.

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