A Constitution bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday said it will first decide whether Section 6A of the Citizenship Act 1955 is constitutionally valid before it proceeds to look into other issues raised in multiple please filed before it. The bench, led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, said that it will take up the matter after it concludes hearing petitions arising out of the split in the Shiv Sena. The hearing in the Maharashtra matter is set to begin on February 14.
The CJI-led bench, also comprising Justices MR Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and PS Narasimha, clarified that the fact that it has framed a preliminary question, which it will examine first, will not prevent it from looking into other aspects of the matter only it begins regular hearing.
“Presently, the following issue as framed for primary determination for the Constitution Bench, whether section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 (https://www.financialexpress.com/about/citizenship-amendment-act/), suffers from any constitutional infirmity,” CJI Chandrachud said.
What is Section 6A of the Citizenship Act?
Section 6A of the Citizenship Act 1955 deals with the special provisions as to the citizenship of persons covered by the Assam Accord.
The provision states that all those who came to Assam on or after January 1, 1966, and before March 25, 1971, from the specified territory (including all territories of Bangladesh at the time of commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1985), and are residents of Assam since then, must register themselves under Section 18 for citizenship.
The provision was introduced in 1985 when the Assam accord was signed between the Government of India and agitating groups.
What is the Centre’s stand in Supreme Court?
Appearing for the central government, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta urged the court to also look into another issue approved by the Attorney General. The issue, the SG said, was “whether the Assam accord, a memorandum of settlement between Union of India, the State of Assam, All Assam Students Union, and All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad arrived at for resolving a long pending issue, being a political settlement and a matter of great policy importance can at all be judicially reviewed at this stage as courts will decline to enter into the political thicket and annul matters of such magnitude and immense consequences”.
The CJI, however, viewed it as an argument in support of Section 6A and said that the Centre can argue its point when the matter is taken up.