The central government told the Supreme Court that the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA) does not violate the cultural rights of indigenous peoples in Assam and the north eastern states. In an additional counter-affidavit filed in the Supreme Court specifically addressing the issues raised with respect to the North-Eastern States, the Ministry of Home Affairs stated that “there is no such provision in the CAA which seeks to protect the citizens of Assam and other North-Eastern States”. influence a specific language, script or culture.”
The MHA explained that the act aims to protect persons belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian communities who have migrated from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan before the cut-off date of December 31, 2014. It said that the Act does not encourage the influx of migrants. It is applicable only to those persons who have come to India before the specified cut-off date. “It is submitted that the CAA does not encourage any future influx of foreigners into India, as it applies to earlier arrivals and has no future application,” the affidavit said.
The MHA affirmed that it did not violate the cultural rights of the people of the North-East under Article 29 of the Constitution. The MHA said, “In keeping with the spirit of Article 29 and keeping in view the concerns of the North Eastern States including Assam, a specific provision has been inserted in sub-section (4) of section 6B inserted by the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1955. With the intention that nothing in this section shall apply to the tribal area of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of 1873. “
CAA does not violate Assam Accord MHA refutes concerns raised by All Assam Students Union and some Assam-based petitioners that CAA violates Assam Accord 1985, signed to deal with the problem of influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh it was done. It states that the CAA aims to protect people migrating from the countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan for fear of religious persecution. As per the provision of section 2 of the Immigration (Expulsion from Assam) Act, 1950, the same category of persons are protected from expulsion. So there is no conflict between CAA and Assam Accord.
“It is therefore respectfully submitted that while implementing the provisions of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, specific concerns with respect to Assam and other North Eastern States have been taken into consideration by the legislature,” the affidavit said. 2019 does not in any way violate the provisions of the Assam Accord or Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955.”
Non-exclusion of non-tribal areas of Assam from CAA does not lead to discrimination. The affidavit further said, “It is submitted that the tribal areas of Assam and Tripura, which are most vulnerable in terms of low indigenous population, are exempted from CAA.” the areas excluded. It is submitted that with respect to the declared object of exclusion of certain areas from the CAA to protect ethnic/linguistic rights and to protect them from mass influx of migrants, non-citizens of Assam and Tripura in CAA The inclusion of tribal areas is not discriminatory, as the said areas are not as sparsely populated as other excluded areas and will not face the same consequences in case of immigration of individuals.”
The CAA does not encourage illegal migration to Assam. The Center said the CAA is a “widely framed law” with a specific cut-off date of 31.12.2014. Hence it covers only the specified category of persons. These migrants are already residing in India and there is no provision in the Amendment Act to grant citizenship to any migrant who came after 31.12.2014. Hence CAA in no way encourages illegal migration to Assam. The Center also reiterated its submission made in the earlier affidavit filed in 2020 that the CAA does not warrant any judicial intervention, as it does not affect the legal, democratic or secular rights of any Indian citizen. It also reiterated that grant of citizenship is an event of sovereign act on which the power of judicial review is very limited.