The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine the question of granting citizenship or refugee status to thousands of displaced persons in North East, mostly in Assam, belonging to various communities who came to India owing to their alleged persecution in Bangladesh based on religion.
A Bench comprising Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who noticed that West Bengal and Meghalaya were not made parties to the writ petition, asked the petitioner NGOs Swajan and Bimolangshu Roy Foundation to implead these states in the petition and adjourned the matter by two weeks.
When the hearing began, the Bench was reluctant to entertain the PIL, but then relented and agreed to consider the issue after senior counsel M N Krishnamani and Pinky Anand, appearing for the petitioners, submitted that the issue involved the future of two lakh migrants spread over Assam, West Bengal and Meghalaya.
It was averred that in spite of a specific mandate of Section 2 of the 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 ameliorate the woes of the displaced persons.
The petitioners contended that citizenship was granted to similarly affected persons from Pakistan and Bangladesh by the Citizenship Amendment Rules 2004 for minority Hindu community people who were displaced during the 1965 and 1971 wars between India and Pakistan and they were settled in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
Between 2004 and 2007, a new procedure was worked out by an executive action by the Centre.
By this executive action, the grant of citizenship of India was facilitated to these persons under the provisions of Citizenship Act, 1955, the petitioners added.