New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday referred to a constitutional bench the question whether the children of illegal migrants born here can avail the benefit of citizenship under the existing law.
"We are referring to the Constitution bench the question as to the whether the children of illegal migrants would get the benefit of Section 3 of the Citizenship Act, as amended," a bench of justices Ranjan Gogoi and RF Nariman said.
The bench, which is hearing various pleas arising out of its verdict on PILs on influx of illegal Bangladeshi migrants to Assam, however, decided to keep monitoring implementation of its directions.
The apex court had, in December last year, passed a slew of directions, including an order to the Centre to complete fencing work along India-Bangladesh border within three months to check cross-border influx of illegal Bangladesh nationals into Assam and streamline the process to deport them back.
It had also laid a time-table for updating of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam so that the entire updated NRC is published by the end of January, 2016.
The bench today rejected the plea of Assam government seeking extension of the deadline of January 31 next year fixed for completion of the NRC in the state.
It rather appointed a panel of three former High Court judges, headed by Justice Aftab H Saikia, to monitor the NRC updation.
The bench also asked Prateek Hajela, State Coordinator, NRC, Assam to follow the instructions and guidelines "issued or to be issued" by the Registrar General of India in the registering the residents in NRC.
It also asked NRC to consider request for registration in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam by persons who were not residents of the state till March 24, 1971, if they provide proof of their citizenship of other Indian states.
"We expect all civic and police authorities to act faithfully and diligently to ensure updation of NRC," it said.
Earlier, the court had 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 bench had, in December last year, referred to a larger bench the issue of constitutional validity of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act with regard to the cut-off date for awarding citizenship to the migrants.
"Whether Section 6A violates Articles 325 and 326 of the Constitution of India in that it has diluted the political rights of the citizens of the state of Assam," it had said.
Deciding a batch of PILs, the court had asked the Centre to detect and deport all illegal migrants who have come to Assam after March 25, 1971.
It had also asked the Centre to hold discussions with the Bangladesh government for ensuring that illegal migrants be sent back and passed a slew of directions in this regard.
It, however, had said that the foreigners, who came to India between January 1, 1966 to March 24, 1971, be awarded the citizenship as per law.
The apex court verdict had come on the pleas of Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha, Assam Public Works and All Assam Ahom Association filed in the aftermath of large-scale riots in the year 2012 and in 2014 in Assam resulting in the death of a large number of persons.
In their writ petition, the petitioners have said that the sovereignty and integrity of India is itself at stake as a massive influx of illegal migrants from a neighbouring country has affected the core constitutional value.