Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 : Former AG points out conflict areas

Imphal, January 13 2019: Former Advocate General Th Ibohal has categorically stated that both the State Government and the public need to study the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) 2016 minutely before it is passed by the Rajya Sabha for it has many provisions which contradict the demand for protection of the State's indigenous people through a constitutional mechanism.

Talking to The Sangai Express exclusively, Th Ibohal pointed out that the Citizenship Act 1955 was enacted by the Parliament.

After India achieved independence, there arose a question regarding which people should be accepted as citizens of India.

List no 17 of the Constitution's Union List and Articles 5 to 11 deal elaborately with citizenship of India.

Now the Central Government has been working to amend the Citizenship Act 1955 so as to grant citizenship to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who have been living in India as illegal immigrants for not less than six years.

If the CAB 2016 is passed by the Parliament (Rajya Sabha), it would have serious conflicts with the popular demand for protection of indigenous people through constitutional mechanism and any exercise to identify non-local people/immigrants, said the former Advocate General.

It is essential to study whether the Manipur People's Protection (MPP) Bill would be given assent by the President of India when the CAB 2016 has been already passed or whether it can remain in force with the CAB 2016 side by side, he continued.

Even if both the MPP Bill and CAB are assumed to be converted into Acts, there are many repugnant or conflict areas between the Manipur People's Protection Act and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, Ibohal said.

While Citizenship (Amendment) Act seeks to grant Indian citizenship to illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan if they have had lived six years in India, the Manipur People's Protection Act would not grant Indian citizenship to foreigners even if they have had lived six years or more in India.

On account of such conflicts, either of the two Acts must be rescinded or diluted.

Which Act would be rescinded and which Act would remain in force is explained clearly in Articles 251 and 254 of the Indian Constitution, pointed out the former Advocate General.

According to Articles 251 and 254 of the Constitution, the Act passed by the State Assembly would be diluted and the one passed by the Parliament would remain in force.

By that time, no one would have any authority to prevent any foreigner from entering and settling in Manipur ifhe/she has had lived six years in any part of the country.

Any attempt to prevent their entry would be termed as illegal, said the retired Advocate General.

Source: The Sangai Express

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