SC notice to govt over non-Muslims entry from Pakistan

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a notice to the Centre on a plea questioning amendment to rules regularising entry and stay of non-Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan in the country.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices L Nageswara Rao and Sanjiv Khanna sought a response from the Union government's Ministry of External and Home Affairs and Assam on a petition filed by Assam-based 'Nagarikatwa Aain Songsudhan Birodhi Mancha' (Forum Against Citizenship Act Amendment Bill) and others.

The petitioners sought a direction to strike down as illegal and invalid the Passport (Entry into India) Amendment Rules, 2015, the Foreigners (Amendment) Order, 2015 notified on September 7, 2015, and orders issued on December 23, 2016, issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

As the matter came up for hearing, the bench pointed out to senior advocate Kamal Nayan Chaudhary and advocate Manish Goswami, appearing for the petitioners, that the Citizenship Amendment Bill has already lapsed. “What remains in the matter,” the bench asked.

To this, the counsel said there were other orders to this effect. The court then decided to examine the matter.

According to the petition, Assam was facing “external aggression and internal disturbance” on account of large-scale illegal migration of Bangladeshi nationals, making indigenous communities lose control of their land, besides affecting their language, script and culture.

“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,” the petition stated.

The amendments defeated the purpose of the Assam Accord, which treated all those who entered the state after March 1971 as illegal immigrants and open the floodgates to more illegal immigration and consequently increases claims on diminishing resources.

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