New Constitution Bench to examine Citizenship Act

Why in News?

The Supreme Court decided to refer to a fresh Constitution Bench pleas to examine the validity of various aspects of a provision of the Citizenship Act 1955, including the cut-off date for awarding citizenship to Bangladeshi immigrants in Assam.




In December 2014, a two-judge Bench of the apex court had framed 13 questions, for deliberation by a larger Bench, which included whether Section 6A violates the Articles of the Constitution by diluting the political rights of residents of Assam.


The Constitution deals with the Citizenship from Articles 5 to 11 under Part II. However, it contains neither any permanent nor any elaborate provisions in this regard. It only identifies the persons who became citizens at its commencement. It empowers the Parliament to enact a law to provide for such matters and any other matters relating to citizenship.


The Parliament has enacted the Citizenships Act 1955, which provides for acquisition and loss of citizenship after the commencement of the constitution.

Acquisition of Citizenship

i)By Birth

ii)By Descent

iii)By Registration

iv)By Naturalisation

v)By Incorporation of Territory

Loss of Citizenship

i)By Renunciation (any citizen of India of full age and capacity can make a declaration renouncing his Indian citizenship)

ii)By Termination (When an Indian Citizen voluntarily acquires the citizenship of another country)

iii)By Deprivation (Termination of citizenship by the central government under certain circumstances)

Citizenship of Persons Covered Under Assam Accord

The section 6A in the Citizenship Act, 1955 contains the provisions with respect to the citizenship of persons covered by the Assam Accord (1985). This section was introduced through an amendment made in 1985, in the Citizenship Act, 1955.

The section 6A of the act says that all those who came to Assam on or after 1 January, 1966, but before 25th March 1971 from the specified territory (it includes all territories of Bangladesh at the time of commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1985), and since then are residents of Assam, must register themselves under section-18 for citizenship


The years between 1979 and 1985 witnessed huge political instability, collapse of state government, president’s rule and unprecedented ethnic violence in Assam.

Finally, to cope up with the situation, the central government signed a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) with the leaders of the movement on 15 August 1985 called Assam Accord. As per this accord:

i)all those foreigners who had entered Assam between 1951 and 1961 were to be given full citizenship including the right to vote.

ii)Migrants those who had done so after 1971 were to be deported.

iii)Those who entered between 1961 and 1971 were to be denied voting rights for ten years but would enjoy all other rights of citizenship.


Source-The Hindu.