SC posed with citizenship dilemma on NRC
New Delhi, Aug 8 (IANS) Can children born to illegal migrants till the year 1987 be considered citizens of Indian origin as per the Citizenship Act? This query was posed before the Supreme Court on Thursday as the August 31 deadline to publish the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam draws closer.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was conducting the hearing on legal issues involved in the NRC. During the hearing, the bench was posed a critical query highlighting the dichotomy existing between Citizenship Act of the country and the list of 13 admissible documents required for NRC, to establish family legacy and Indian nationality.
According to the Citizenship Act, people born in India between 1950 and 1987 through the documentation of their birth are entitled to the country's citizenship. But the larger question is - if children are born to illegal migrants, then under what category would they be considered?
The top court after hearing the arguments from various parties reserved its order, and it is apparent the court may pass some interim order on the issues connected with the citizenship status of people born in India between 1971 and 1987, however, their names have not been included in the draft NRC.
Advocate Somiran Sharma drew the court's attention through his application on this issue, which is pending before the Constitution bench.
"The expression every person born in India as per the Citizenship Act, if interpreted to include children of illegal immigrants would render itself unconstitutional and discriminatory. The provision overlooks the reality that the large number of illegal migrants from neighbouring countries have settled in Assam, and have also been given special treatment under the Act," said Sharma's application.
He contended that a separate list of people falling in this category should be maintained by the Assam Census as the NRC has already reached an advanced stage and is just a few weeks away from the deadline.
During the hearing the court said it will not get into the nature of NRC data revealed in the Assam Legislative Assembly and especially the comments of politicians on it.
"Our actions are subject to criticism and debate, it cannot deter us. We will continue to oversee NRC finalized as per the schedule," said the bench.
The court asked the State Coordinator NRC to look carefully into the 33,000 claims originating from one area, and sought an overall report.