Recently, A Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud said it will first take up for preliminary determination whether Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 suffers from any “constitutional infirmity”.

 

Details

  • Section 6A was a special provision inserted into the 1955 Act in furtherance of a Memorandum of Settlement called the ‘Assam Accord’ signed on August 15, 1985.
  • The accord was a tripartite agreement between the Centre, the Assam government and the All Assam Students Union, and came after years of protest against perceived demographic change and outsiders in the state.

 

About Section 6A

  • It created a special provision for Assam by which persons who entered between January 1, 1966, and March 25, 1971, and who are residing in the state, upon being detected as foreigners, will be allowed to register
  • Upon registration, such a person will have the same rights and obligations as a citizen of India, but will not be entitled to be included in any electoral roll for a period of 10 years.
  • Foreigners who had entered Assam before January 1, 1966, and been “ordinarily resident” in the State, would have all the rights and obligations of Indian citizens including the right to vote.

 

What is ‘Assam Accord’?

  • The Assam Accord (1985) was a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) signed between representatives of the Government of India and the leaders of the Assam Movement in New Delhi on 15 August 1985.
  • The accord brought an end to the Assam Agitation and paved the way for the leaders of the agitation to form a political party and form a government in the state of Assam soon after.
  • Some of the key demands were – All those foreigners who had entered Assam between 1951 and 1961 were to be given full citizenship, including the right to vote. Those who had done so after 1971 were to be deported; the entrants between 1961 and 1971 were to be denied voting rights for ten years but would enjoy all other rights of citizenship.
  • A parallel package for the economic development of Assam, including a second oil refinery, a paper mill and an institute of technology, was also worked out.
  • The central government also promised to provide ‘legislative and administrative safeguards to protect the cultural, social, and linguistic identity and heritage’ of the Assamese people. This is the Clause 6 of Assam Accord.