Can Bangla migrant children avail citizenship benefits, asks SC

 The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre and Assam government to clarify their stand on whether the children of illegal Bangladeshi migrants born here can avail the benefit of citizenship under the existing law.

PTI| Last Updated: Jul 14, 2015, 20:16 PM IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre and Assam government to clarify their stand on whether the children of illegal Bangladeshi migrants born here can avail the benefit of citizenship under the existing law.

"The Union of India, on next date, is directed to take a stand on the question as to whether the children of illegal migrants will or can avail the benefits under section 3 of the Citizenship Act," the bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R F Nariman said, adding that the Assam government could also apprise it of its views on the matter.

When the state's counsel said that the Act was a central legislation, the bench said, "now don't duck it. Come out with some kind of views. If you (Assam) want to take a stand, then please take it or simply say that you don't have any stand".

The bench, which had earlier converted an interim plea as a full-fledged petition on the citizenship issue of illegal migrants, today asked the Centre to clarify its stand by July 21, the next date of hearing.

At the outset of day-long hearing, the bench termed the Indo-Bangla border in Assam as "most porous" and asked the Centre and the state government to respond to step up measures to check infiltration, including border fencing, construction of border roads, night patrolling and flood-lighting.

"Flood-lights constructed and installed, but there is no electricity supply. BSF issues a very strange kind of passes allowing persons to move within 150 meters of international border. This is the most porous border," it said.

The bench referred to the report of senior advocate Upmanyu Hazarika, appointed by it as the court commissioner to visit the international border and said that the report had pointed out various shortcomings.

"We would like the Centre and the state to step up things and respond to the report (of Commissioner) by taking positive actions," it said and asked the Commissioner to provide the copy of his report and the video to both the governments.

It asked the Centre and the state government to take requisite steps in pursuance of the report and asked the court commissioner to visit the border after two months to assess the progress made by authorities.