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Gauhati HC advocates’ body seeks withdrawal of Citizenship Bill
STAFF REPORTER
 GUWAHATI, Oct 11 - Stating that the indigenous people of Assam would be reduced to minority in their home State if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, is passed, the Gauhati High Court Advocates’ Association has called for withdrawal of the proposed legislation.

The association today submitted a memorandum to Governor Prof Jagdish Mukhi in this regard.

“The people of Assam are in deep anxiety since the day of introduction of the Citizenship Act, 1955 Amendment Bill, 2016 in the Lok Sabha apprehending that if the Bill is made into an Act, the indigenous streams of people of Assam would be reduced to minority in their own home State. In view of this circumstance, the Gauhati High Court Advocates’ Association most sincerely demands the withdrawal of the said Bill,” stated the memorandum.

It added that the Bill is “ex-facto retrovirus” of the Constitution of India. “India is a secular country and by 42nd Amendment of its Constitution the word ‘Secular’ is made part of the preamble reflecting the collective will of the people. Scores of court judgments... had held that the basic structure of the Constitution is not within the amending power of the Parliament. There appear no provisions in the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant citizenship on the basis of religion and all the Acts are subservient to the Constitution. Hence to grant citizenship on the basis of religion, the Parliament does not have the right to amend the Constitution which might change the basic structure of the Constitution of the country, i.e. the Secularsion (sic). On this count alone, the proposed Citizenship Act, 1955 (Amendment Bill), 2016 is liable to be withdrawn forthwith,” said the memorandum.

The association said that Assam is a small State and it has to carry the burden of migrants since the pre-Independence times.

“It is evident that Assam is over-burdened and it can no longer sustain any more burden of people to come here from any foreign nation. The Assamese nationality is almost in a minority status and passing of the Bill would surely reduce them to minority in their own home State. Hence, the said Bill needs to be withdrawn at once,” it said.

The memorandum added that the State Reorganisation Commission, 1956, had suggested formation of states on the basis of language and as a result Assam became a homeland for the Assamese speaking people.

“In view of this fact too, if the proposed Bill... is made into an Act it might deal a deadly blow to the very concept of State Reorganisation Commission and the Assamese shall be minority in their own home State,” the association said.

It said that as per the Assam Accord, March 24, 1971, was set as the cut-off date for identification and deportation of illegal migrants irrespective of religion and the Accord was also approved by Parliament.

The association said that the proposed legislation would confer upon those who entered the State illegally after March 24, 1971, the right to citizenship.

“... in such a position, Assam would be in great danger as lakhs of people from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, etc. will infiltrate and settle in Assam,” it said.

It added that amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955, allowing further infiltration of people from Bangladesh, Pakistan and other countries into Assam “shall endanger the existence and identity of Assamese-speaking people of the State of Assam and they shall be reduced to linguistic minority in their own home State.”

The association said that granting permission for further infiltration of people into Assam from other countries by way of the proposed legislation is not reasonable in any way and will also go against national integrity, peace and tranquility.

“The apex court in Sarbananda Sonowal VS Union of India (2005) 5 SCC 655 case compared illegal migration with external aggression. While making this observation the apex court never distinguished them on the basis of religion... But unfortunately the present government at the Centre, instead of protecting the people of Assam from external aggression wants to honour them by conferring citizenship,” it rued.

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