Constitution bench to hear citizenship plea of Bangladeshi minorities: SC

Constitution bench to hear citizenship plea of Bangladeshi minorities: SC

Constitution bench to hear citizenship plea of Bangladeshi minorities: SC

The issue of forced exodus owing to alleged religious persecution of minorities, including Hindus, from Bangladesh and their plea for Indian citizenship will be heard by a Constitution bench during the summer vacation, the Supreme Court said today.

The 2012 PIL will now be taken up along with other petitions relating to questions including whether the children of illegal Bangladeshi Muslim migrants can avail the benefit of Indian citizenship in Assam.

A two-judge bench had earlier asked the Centre to detect and deport all illegal migrants who have come to Assam after March 25, 1971 and hold discussions with the Bangladesh government to ensure that illegal migrants are sent back.

It had also decided to keep monitoring the work of border fencing to ensure no foreigner comes to India illegally.

However, the court in December 2014 had referred to a five-judge bench the issues relating to the cut-off date for granting citizenship to illegal Bangladeshi migrants and the status of children of such illegal migrants under the existing law.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar today decided to tag the PIL seeking citizenship or refugee status to thousands of displaced persons of minorities including Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Christians due to their alleged religious persecution in Bangladesh with the cases of illegal Muslim migrants in Assam.

During the brief hearing on the PIL filed by NGO 'Swajan' and others, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said that the Bill on granting Indian citizenship to members of religious minorities of Bangladesh is pending in the Parliament.

The bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul, said that the present plea should be heard together with similar other petitions and fixed April 19 for framing of issues to be deliberated upon by a Constitution bench during the summer vacation.
A Constitution bench consists of a minimum of five judges.

The petition filed by the NGO had stated that in spite of a specific mandate of Section 2 of Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act, 1950 protecting from expulsion victims of civil disturbances, no measures have been taken either by the Centre or the Assam government to provide "ameliorative" steps for displaced persons.

It has said that citizenship was granted to similarly affected persons from Pakistan and Bangladesh by Citizenship (Amendment) Rules, 2004, for minority Hindu community people who were displaced as a result of the 1965 and 1971 wars between India and Pakistan and they were settled in Rajasthan and Gujarat.