Supreme Court: In the present case the bench of R.F.Nariman, J., and Ranjan Gogoi, J.,delivered a landmark judgment touching upon various issues of pressing importance related to the problem of illegal immigration from Indo-Bangladesh border with special emphasis on the problems of state of Assam.
Deliberating upon the issue that Section 6A of the Citizenship Act enacted in 1985 cannot be challenged now, as being barred by “doctrine of laches” or inordinate delay. The court held that with respect to petitioners’ appeal under Articles 21 to 29 of the Constitution, on behalf of the whole class of tribal and non-tribal of Assam, cannot be turned down on grounds of delay keeping in mind the fact that this violation is continuous and ongoing and doing so would amount to the Court shirking its constitutional duties. It further held that in view of the change in law the doors of justice cannot be shut on grounds of delay on violation of right to life and personal liberty and the doctrine of laches has to be looked over again in perspective of fundamental rights. The court requested the Chief Justice for constitution of an appropriate constitutional bench under Article 145(3) of the IConstitution and framed 13 questions for consideration of the said bench, arising out of alleged validity of section 6A of the Citizenship Act.
In the present appeal, filed in the backdrop of large scale rioting which occurred in 2012-2014 in Assam, validity of section 6A of Citizenship Act 1955, inserted in 1985 pursuant to giving effect to the provisions of “Assam Accord”, was challenged, among other prayers, as being arbitrary and violative of the provisions of Constitution of India.
On the issue of the laissez-faire attitude of both the central and the state government on implementation of provisions of Assam Accord, court highlighted the dictum of Sarbananda Sonowal v. Union of India., (2005) 5 SCC 665, and regretted that while some parts of the accord have been wholly implemented, precious little has been done vis-a-vis others. In furtherance of the issue the Court issued direction to central and state government under Article 142 of the Constitution for comprehensively fencing the Indo-Bangladesh border in its entirety, stricting up the patrolling along the border, setting up of additional foreign tribunals and expediting the work of selecting officers for these tribunals by Gauhati High Court and lastly it directed the Central Government to work out a mechanism with Government of Bangladesh for deportation of illegal migrants. It further said that the Court would oversee the execution of the orders after 3 months and reserved the matter for hearing for March 2015. Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha v. Union of India, 2014 SCC OnLine SC 1017,decided on 17.12.2014