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Supreme Court to examine validity of law granting citizenship to pre-1971 migrants from Bangladesh.

Pic. Courtesy: supremecourtofindia.nic.in

New Delhi, April 19:

A five judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court will examine constitutional validity of the Citizenship Act’s Section 6A providing granting citizenship to migrants from then East Pakistan who had crossed over to India before March 25, 1971.

Asking all the parties to the cases to submit their written submissions by May 1, the constitution bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice R.K.Agrawal, Justice Prafulla C. Pant, Justice D.Y.Chandrachud and Justice Ashok Bhushan on Wednesday said that hearing commencing from May 11 would last for seven days – May 11 to May 12 and then May 15 to May 19.

As the court asked the lawyers representing different parties to conclude their arguments in seven days, senior counsel Shyam Divan appearing for a petitioner told the bench: “My immediate reaction is it may not be possible to complete the hearing in seven days” – a view shared by many other advocates.

At this, Justice Lokur, who is presiding over the bench said: “We can’t hear 20 lawyers saying same thing 20 times.”

The bench said that in the event of any spill over of the arguments beyond allotted seven days, then further hearing would then take place in July or August.

Most of the senior lawyers including Salman Khurshid and Additional Solicitor General P.S.Patwalia – representing the Centre – said there would be other grounds but the focus of the hearing would be the validity of Section 6A.

However, Divan said that it would also encompass cultural rights and the identities of the people and their dilution in certain pockets on accounts of influx of migrants from what is now Bangladesh.

Senior counsel Salman Khurshid told the bench that there are different grounds of challenge but focus essentially would be on Section 6A.

The constitution bench said that the hearing would be confined to 13 questions framed by the bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman by their December 17, 2014 judgment, which had referred to the constitution bench the question of validity of Section 6A, incorporated in the law following the accord between the central government and the All Assam Students Union in 1985.

The 13 questions to be addressed by the constitution bench include “whether Articles 10 and 11 of the Constitution of India permit enactment of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act in as much as Section 6A, in prescribing a cut-off date different from the cut-off date prescribed in Article 6, can do so without a variation of Article 6 itself”. (IANS)