Supreme Court: Illegal migration a crucial problem. What’s govt doing?

NEW DELHI: Highlighting the adverse impact of largescale illegal migration on the social and cultural fabric in addition to the burden it puts on existing national resources, the Supreme Court on Thursday sought the Centre‘s response on steps taken by it to safeguard the northeastern borders and stem the influx from Bangladesh.
A five-judge Constitution bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices Surya Kant, MM Sundresh, JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra observed that illegal migration is a “crucial problem” before saying, “We want to know what the Union government is doing.”

The court said it would also deal with this issue while examining the constitutional validity of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, which accords legality to migrants who entered the country till March 25, 1971.

Defending the Section’s validity, solicitor general Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre and Assam, admitted largescale migration after ’71 wasn’t only changing the state’s demography but also creating problems.
Why is Section 6A applicable only to Assam, SC asks Centre
The Supreme Court on Thursday raised a question on why Section 6A of the Citizenship Act was applied only in Assam to protect and grant citizenship to migrants but did not cover the migrants who entered into other border states, including West Bengal which also faces the problem.
“Why did you single out Assam when West Bengal has a longer border and influx may also be significant,” a five-judge Constitution bench headed by CJI DY Chandrachud asked solic itor general Tushar Mehta, who was defending the provision on behalf of the Centre and Assam government.
“You have illegal migrants in West Bengal also. What is the reason to exclude West Bengal? We are not saying that they (migrants who entered WB) should also be protected but why did you leave the state? What is the extent of this illegal migration and what is government doing in West Bengal,” the bench asked.
The solicitor general, however, submitted that there are multiple laws which are applicable to only one state and that cannot be a ground to declare the law unconstitutional. “This is a classification based on territory and it cannot be declared unconstitutional just because it is not applicable to other states,” Mehta submitted.
The court sought response from the West Bengal government but no one appeared for the state.
The petitioners submitted that the Assam Accord was discriminatory as it differentiates the Assamese people from those living in other states as an identically-placed person who had entered any other state.

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