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Modi Govt in a fix over Citizenship Bill

By Kalyan Barooah

NEW DELHI, Oct 3 - The Narendra Modi Government seems to be in a fix over the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, as it appears to violate the provisions of the Assam Accord and runs into conflict with several judgements of the Supreme Court.

The Joint Parliamentary Committee that met on Monday to examine the Bill today held consultations with constitutional experts regarding the legal provisions of the Bill. The committee chaired by Satyapal Singh includes several MPs from Assam, including Bhubaneswar Kalita, Ramen Deka, Kamakhya Prasad Tasa and Sushmita Dev. Today�s meeting was joined by top officials of the Cabinet Secretariat, Intelligence Bureau, besides the Ministry of Home Affairs, sources said.

According to sources, constitutional experts TK Vishwanathan and Subash Kashyab broadly made three points before the committee. They pointed out that the Assam Accord will be violated. The Bill, which the experts described as a �badly drafted� piece of legislation, if passed by the Parliament would also imply amendment of the Assam Accord.

Thirdly, if passed, the Bill will be in violation of numerous judgements of the Supreme Court which has ruled that the citizenship cannot be granted on the basis of religion, sources added.

An MP, who was part of the committee, told this newspaper that they had repeatedly sought clarification from the government whether they wanted to amend the Assam Accord, but got no response.

Sources said that the committee has decided to summon the Chief Secretary of Assam and the state coordinator for National Register of Citizen (NRC) updation to explain the ground realities in Assam vis-�-vis the illegal immigrants.

The constitutional experts explained that Article 14 and 25 of the Constitution clearly states that citizenship cannot be given on the basis of religion. Besides, the Supreme Court has also passed several judgements in this regard. It will also have an impact on the Assam Accord, which is part of the Citizenship Act as Section 6A. The moment this Bill is passed, the Supreme Court will strike it down, the committee was told, sources said.

Sources said that the experts also pointed out that the Bill in its present form would merely allow people to apply for citizenship, while the final control would still be with the Government of India. The Bill will not grant citizenship right directly, as being perceived, the committee was told.

The meeting, which also discussed the provisions of the Assam Accord also briefly discussed the Supreme Court�s verdict on Sarbananda Sonowal�s case on the IM(DT) Act.

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Modi Govt in a fix over Citizenship Bill

NEW DELHI, Oct 3 - The Narendra Modi Government seems to be in a fix over the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, as it appears to violate the provisions of the Assam Accord and runs into conflict with several judgements of the Supreme Court.

The Joint Parliamentary Committee that met on Monday to examine the Bill today held consultations with constitutional experts regarding the legal provisions of the Bill. The committee chaired by Satyapal Singh includes several MPs from Assam, including Bhubaneswar Kalita, Ramen Deka, Kamakhya Prasad Tasa and Sushmita Dev. Today�s meeting was joined by top officials of the Cabinet Secretariat, Intelligence Bureau, besides the Ministry of Home Affairs, sources said.

According to sources, constitutional experts TK Vishwanathan and Subash Kashyab broadly made three points before the committee. They pointed out that the Assam Accord will be violated. The Bill, which the experts described as a �badly drafted� piece of legislation, if passed by the Parliament would also imply amendment of the Assam Accord.

Thirdly, if passed, the Bill will be in violation of numerous judgements of the Supreme Court which has ruled that the citizenship cannot be granted on the basis of religion, sources added.

An MP, who was part of the committee, told this newspaper that they had repeatedly sought clarification from the government whether they wanted to amend the Assam Accord, but got no response.

Sources said that the committee has decided to summon the Chief Secretary of Assam and the state coordinator for National Register of Citizen (NRC) updation to explain the ground realities in Assam vis-�-vis the illegal immigrants.

The constitutional experts explained that Article 14 and 25 of the Constitution clearly states that citizenship cannot be given on the basis of religion. Besides, the Supreme Court has also passed several judgements in this regard. It will also have an impact on the Assam Accord, which is part of the Citizenship Act as Section 6A. The moment this Bill is passed, the Supreme Court will strike it down, the committee was told, sources said.

Sources said that the experts also pointed out that the Bill in its present form would merely allow people to apply for citizenship, while the final control would still be with the Government of India. The Bill will not grant citizenship right directly, as being perceived, the committee was told.

The meeting, which also discussed the provisions of the Assam Accord also briefly discussed the Supreme Court�s verdict on Sarbananda Sonowal�s case on the IM(DT) Act.