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SC notice to Centre on ILP issue


NEW DELHI, June 3 - The Supreme Court today issued notice to the Centre returnable within two weeks on the pleas challenging the presidential order amending the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations, 1873 (BEFR) to deny Assam an inner line permit (ILP) system to insulate it from the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.

A bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy, while conducting a virtual hearing, however refused to grant ex parte stay on the operation of the presidential order. Issuing notice to the Centre, the top court listed the matter for further hearing on July 6.

The petition was filed by the All Tai Ahom Students� Union (ATASU) and the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP). Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for the student and youth organisations, said that the issue is of ILP system and the court should grant interim stay on the presidential order. The bench, however, said it cannot grant any interim stay on the order without hearing the Centre on the issue.

Petitioners ATASU and AJYCP have challenged the presidential order of December 11, 2019, calling it �unconstitutional�. The petition said the President passed the order for amendment under Article 372(2) of the Constitution, although as per Article 372(3), he has the power to do so for only three years from the date of enactment of the Constitution, that is till 1953.

Both the organisations have sought inner line system in Assam to protect the indigenous people of the State from the effect of the CAA, especially from those people who have come from Bangladesh.

A number of organisations in Assam have been protesting against the CAA and have sought implementation of the ILP system in the State saying that under the BEFR, the inner line permit system was very much prevalent in some undivided districts of Assam.

On December 11, 2019, the President signed an order extending the inner line permit (ILP) regime to Manipur. Manipur is the fourth state after Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram where the ILP regime is applicable.

The petition also said that the President by exercising his power under Article 372(2) of the Constitution removed Kamrup, Darrang, Nowgong, Sibsagar, Lakhimpur and Cachar districts, which form almost the entire Assam presently, from the purview of the BEFR, exactly one day prior to giving his assent to the CAA.

The ILP regime is applicable under the BEFR. In terms of Section 2 of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations, 1873, citizens of other states require ILP for visiting these states. The main objective is to prevent settlement of other Indian nationals in the states with ILP system, in order to protect the native population.

There have been widespread protests in the northeastern region against the new citizenship law following which the Centre announced that the Act will not be applicable in the ILP-regime states and the areas governed under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

Under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, autonomous councils and districts were created in certain tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura. The autonomous councils and districts enjoy certain executive and legislative powers.

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