Meghalaya HC wants urgent Citizenship Amendment Bill

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Contrary to the popular mood of the Brahmaputra valley, the Meghalaya High Court has urged the Prime Minister, law minister and Parliament to bring a legislation to allow citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, Christians, Khasis, Jaintias and Garos, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, without any question or documents.

The 37-page judgement by Justice S R Sen was given on Monday while disposing of a petition filed by Amon Rana who was denied domicile certificate. The copy of the order was made available on Tuesday.

The judgement observed that Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians, Parsis, Khasis, Jaintias and Garos are tortured even today in the three neighbouring countries and they have no place to go.

Although the Centre’s Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 also seeks to make Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan eligible for Indian citizenship after a stay of six years, there was no mention of this bill in the court order.

The judge directed the Centre’s Assistant Solicitor General, Meghalaya High Court, A Paul to hand over the copy of the judgment to the Prime Minister, Union home and law ministers latest by Tuesday for their perusal and necessary steps to bring a law to safeguard the interest of the communities.

“I can simply say that the Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, Christians, Khasis, Jaintias and Garos residing in India, on whichever date they have come to India, are to be declared as Indian citizens and those who will come in future also to be considered as Indian citizens.

“I request our beloved Prime Minister, Home Minister, Law Minister and Members of Parliament to bring a law to allow the Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, Christians, Khasis, Jaintias and Garos who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to live in this country peacefully and with full dignity without making any cut off year and be given citizenship without any question or production of any 21 documents,” Justice Sen said.

The court said these communities may be allowed to come at any point of time to settle in India and the government may provide rehabilitation “properly” and declare them citizens of India.

Similar principle to be adopted for those Hindus and Sikhs, who are of Indian origin and presently residing abroad, to come to India at any time as they like and they may be considered automatically as Indian citizens, the judge said.

The court said it expected the Government of India to take a conscious decision to protect the innocent Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, Christians, Khasis, Jaintias and Garos who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, and who are yet to come as well as from abroad as they have the same right to come to India as Indian citizens.

Justice Sen was critical of the Boundary Commission appointed at the time of partition which drew an imaginary line to divide India into two.

“A burning example is that if we visit the border, it is difficult to understand which land falls within India (in Meghalaya) and which is in Bangladesh as somebody’s kitchen is in India and their bedroom is in Bangladesh,” he said.

Stating that it was “highly illogical, illegal and against the principle of natural justice”, the court said Hindus who entered India during partition are still considered foreigners.

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