Plea in Supreme Court challenges Passport Amendment Rules, 2015 and The Foreigners (Amendment) Order 2015

Plea in Supreme Court challenges Passport Amendment Rules, 2015 and The Foreigners (Amendment) Order 2015

Aditi Singh

A Petition has been filed before the Supreme Court praying that the Passport (Entry into India) Amendment Rules, 2015, The Foreigners (Amendment) Order, 2015 and S.O 4132 (E) dated December 23, 2016 issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs be declared ultra-vires the Constitution of India.

The impugned sub-ordinate legislation exempts persons belonging to minority communities in Bangladesh and Pakistan, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who were compelled to seek shelter in India due to religious persecution or fear of religious persecution on or before the 31st December, 2014, from the application of provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946. Such persons may be without valid documents or with expired documents, including passport or other travel documents, as exempted under the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 by the impugned sub-ordinate legislation.

The Petition contends that these sub-ordinate legislations have diluted the meaning of “illegal migrant” as defined in Section 2(b) of The Citizenship Act, 1955, which is not permissible in law.

It also seeks a direction to be issued to the Central Government to constitute a National Immigration Commission or any other appropriate body to frame a National Immigration Policy and a National Refugee Policy.

The writ petition has been preferred by an organization, Forum Against Citizenship Act Amendment Bill, in their respective personal as well as representative capacity of a majority of the indigenous people living in Assam, for enforcement of their fundamental rights under Article 14, 15, 19, 21, 25 and 29 of the Constitution.

Drawn through Advocate Manish Goswami, the Petition states that the impugned sub-ordinate legislation violates the Basic Structure doctrine by going against the concept of secularism as ‘illegal immigrants’ are granted citizenship only on the basis of religion pursuant to the impugned legislation .

The Petition reads,

The sub-ordinate legislation impugned herein are however, unprecedented, in the sense that never before has religion been specifically identified in the citizenship law as the ground for distinguishing between citizens and non-citizens. It has introduced religion as a new principle into the citizenship law and can be conveniently branded as “communally motivated humanitarianism”.”

The Petitioner further claims that the uncontrolled influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh to Assam has caused huge demographic changes in Assam, and therefore, the indigenous people who were once the majority have now become a minority in their own land. It contends that the impugned sub-ordinate legislation are in violation of the Assam Accord, which treated all those who entered the State after March’1971 as illegal immigrants.

The amendment defeats the purpose of the accord and opens the floodgates to more illegal immigration and consequently increases claims on diminishing resources, the Petition contends.

It is further contended that the influx of illegal migrants into Assam violates Articles 325 and 326, and constitutes “external aggression” as provided for under Article 355 of the Constitution.

Read the Petition:

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