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A Presidential order denying the inner-line system in Assam has been challenged to shield Assam from the CAA's effect, especially with respect to those who have come in from Bangladesh.
The Supreme Court today issued notice to Union of India on the pleas by Assam students' unions challenging the Presidential order amending the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR), 1873 to deny Assam an inner-line permit (ILP) system so as to insulate it from the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019.
A Bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy, however, refused to grant an ex-parte stay on the operation of Presidential order and slotted the matter for hearing after two weeks.
The pleas by the All Tai Ahom Students' Union' and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad have challenged a Presidential Order of December 11, 2019 to amend the BEFR as “unconstitutional”.
Advocate Kaushik Choudhury for the ‘All Tai Ahom Students Union' stated that the President passed the order for amendment under Article 372 (2) of the Constitution, although as per Article 372 (3), he has the power to do so only for three years from the date of enactment of the Constitution, that is, until 1953.
As per the rule, to visit an Inner line permit state, outsiders, including people from other states of the country, need to take permission. There is also protection in place for the locals with regards to land, jobs and other facilities.
Appearing for the Students Unions, Senior Advocate Vikas Singh today urged the Court to grant an interim stay on the Presidential order.
The student bodies have prayed that there should be an inner-line system in the state to protect them from the effect of the CAA, especially with respect to those who have come from Bangladesh.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 eases the citizenship processes for members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, till December 31, 2014, after having faced religious persecution there. With the CAA, such immigrants will not be treated as illegal immigrants, but given Indian citizenship.
Many students' unions in Assam have been protesting against the CAA and wanted implementation of ILP in the state, while pointing out that under the BEFR, the inner line permit system was very much prevalent in some undivided districts of Assam.
On December 11, the President had signed an order extending the inner line permit (ILP) regime to Manipur. Manipur is the fourth state after Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram where the ILP regime is applicable.
As per the plea filed by ‘All Tai Ahom Students' Union', the President by exercising the power under Article 372 (2) of the Constitution has removed Kamrup, Darrang, Nowgong, Sibsagar, Lakhimpur and Cachar - which forms part of almost the whole of Assam presently - from the purview of the BEFR, exactly one day prior to giving assent to the CAA.
The ILP regime is applicable under the BEFR, 1873. In terms of Section 2 of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations (BEFR), 1873, citizens of other states require ILP for visiting Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram.
The main objective of the ILP system is to prevent the settlement of other Indian nationals in the three states, in order to protect the indigenous population.
After the CAA was brought in force, there have been widespread protests in the Northeastern States against the new Citizenship law, following which the Centre announced that the Act will not be applicable in ILP regime states and areas governed under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
Under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, autonomous councils and districts were created in certain tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura. The autonomous councils and districts enjoy certain executive and legislative powers.