NEW DELHI, Dec 24 - A petition challenging the two controversial Central government notifications that seek to give protection to religious minority groups seeking shelter in India has been filed in the Supreme Court, with the petitioners pleading that the notifications be declared ultra vires.
The Passport (Entry into India) Amendment Rules, 2015, the Foreigners (Amendment) Order, 2015 and S.O. 4132 (E) dated December 23, 2016, issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, have been challenged by academician-author Dr Hiren Gohain, former DGP Harekrishna Deka and former journalist Manjit Mahanta.
The subordinate legislation exempts persons belonging to minority communities in Bangladesh and Pakistan, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, who were compelled to seek shelter in India due to religious persecution or fear of religious persecution there on or before December 31, 2014, from the application of provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946.
The writ petition has been filed on behalf of the Forum Against Citizenship Act Amendment Bill by the three individuals in their respective personal as well as representative capacity of a majority of the indigenous people living in Assam, for enforcement of their fundamental rights under Articles 14, 15, 19, 21, 25 and 29 of the Constitution.
The petition contended that these subordinate legislations have diluted the meaning of “illegal migrant” as defined in Section 2(b) of the Citizenship Act, 1955, which is not permissible in law.
The petition has also sought direction to the Central government to constitute a ‘National Immigration Commission’ or any other appropriate body to frame a ‘National Immigration Policy’ and a ‘National Refugee Policy’.
The petitioners claimed that the impugned subordinate legislation violated the basic structure doctrine by going against the concept of secularism as ‘illegal immigrants’ are granted citizenship only on the basis of religion pursuant to the impugned legislation.
The petitioners further claimed that the uncontrolled influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh to Assam has caused huge demographic changes in Assam, and therefore, the indigenous people who were once the majority have now become a minority in their own land. It contends that the impugned subordinate legislation is in violation of the Assam Accord, which treated all those who entered the State after March 1971 as illegal immigrants.