The Supreme Court Wednesday sought response from the Centre on the pleas of two Assam students' unions challenging the Presidential order amending the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR), 1873 to deny the state an inner-line permit (ILP) system to insulate it from the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy, conducting hearing through video conferencing, also refused to grant ex-parte stay on the operation of Presidential order.
The top court issued notice to the Centre and listed the matter for further hearing after two weeks.
To visit the ILP-regime states, outsiders, including people from other states of the country, need to take permission. There is also protection for the locals with regards to land, jobs and other facilities.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for the Students Unions said that the issue is of Inner-line permit system and the court should grant interim stay on the Presidential order.
The bench said that it cannot grant any interim-stay on the order without hearing Centre on the issue.
The pleas, of 'All Tai Ahom Students' Union' and 'Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad' have challenged the presidential order of December 11, 2019 to amend the BEFR calling it "unconstitutional".
The plea of 'All Tai Ahom Students' Union' filed through advocate Kaushik Choudhury, 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 students' unions have sought inner-line system in the state to protect them from the effect of CAA especially from those who have come from Bangaldesh.
Many students' union in the state have been protesting against the CAA and wanted implementation of ILP 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, 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.
As per the plea filed by 'All Tai Ahom Students' Union', the President by exercising the power under Article 372 (2) of the Constitution has removed Kamrup, Darrang, Nowgong, Sibsagar, Lakhimpur and Cachar, which forms the part of almost entire Assam presently, from the purview of the BEFR, exactly one day prior to giving assent to the CAA.
The ILP regime is applicable under the BEFR, 1873. In terms of Section 2 of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations (BEFR), 1873, citizens of other states require ILP for visiting these three states.
The main objective of the ILP system is to prevent settlement of other Indian nationals in the three states in order to protect the indigenous population.
There have been widespread protests in the Northeastern States against the new Citizenship law following which the Centre announced that the Act will not be applicable in ILP regime states and 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.
According to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, till December 31, 2014 facing religious persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.