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Indian Polity

Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955

  • 08 Dec 2023
  • 7 min read

For Prelims: Constitution Bench, Chief Justice of India, Citizenship Act, 1955, Assam Accord, Citizenship

For Mains: Acquisition and Determination of Indian Citizenship, Amendments of Citizenship Act, 1955.

Source: TH

Why in News?

Recently, a Constitution Bench led by the Chief Justice of India is hearing a series of petitions challenging the constitutionality of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955.

What is Section 6A of the Citizenship Act of 1955?

  • Background:
    • Section 6A was enacted as part of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1985, following the Assam Accord of 1985.
      • The Assam Accord was a tripartite agreement between the Central Government, the State Government of Assam, and the leaders of the Assam Movement, which sought to end the influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh.
    • The Assam Accord, signed in 1985, introduced Section 6A into the Citizenship Act, of 1955, exclusively for Assam.
      • This provision addresses the issue of large-scale migration preceding the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. Notably, it mandates the detection and deportation of foreigners who entered Assam after March 25, 1971, marking the creation of Bangladesh.
      • The introduction of Section 6A reflects the specific historical and demographic challenges faced by Assam during this critical period.
  • Provisions and implications:
    • Section 6A created a special provision for Assam by which persons of Indian origin who came from Bangladesh before 1st January 1966, were deemed to be citizens of India as of that date.
    • Persons of Indian origin who came to Assam between 1st January 1966, and 25th March 1971, and who were detected to be foreigners, were required to register themselves and were granted citizenship after 10 years of residence, subject to certain conditions.
    • Persons who entered Assam after 25th March, 1971, were to be detected and deported in accordance with the law.
  • Challenges:
    • Constitutional Validity:
      • Article 6:
        • The petitioners argue that Section 6A is in violation of Article 6 of the Constitution.
        • Article 6 of the Indian Constitution deals with the citizenship of people who migrated from Pakistan to India during the partition.
          • The article states that anyone who migrated to India before 19th July 1949, would automatically become an Indian citizen if either of their parents or grandparents was born in India.
        • This raises concerns about the legal and constitutional validity of the provision.
      • Article 14:
        • Critics argue that Section 6A may violate Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to equality.
          • The provision is perceived as discriminatory as it singles out Assam for specific citizenship criteria.
        • The provision is applicable only to Assam, and this selective application raises concerns about equal treatment and fairness compared to other states facing similar issues of migration.
    • Demographic Impact:
      • Section 6A's citizenship grant is criticized by some petitioners for allegedly contributing to an influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh into Assam.
      • Concerns focus on the unintended consequence of encouraging illegal migration and the resultant impact on the state's demographic composition.
      • The petitioners argue that the conferring of citizenship on the migrant population in Assam, as facilitated by Section 6A, amounts to "cementing an illegality."
        • They claim that the provision has had a multiplier effect by recognizing these individuals as citizens, leading to continued influx.
    • Cultural Impact:
      • Petitioners argue that the benefits given to cross-border migrants between 1966 and 1971 led to a radical demographic change affecting the cultural identity of Assam.

What is Citizenship?

  • About:
    • Citizenship is the legal status and relationship between an individual and a state that entails specific rights and duties.
  • Constitutional Provisions:
    • Articles 5 to 11 in Part II of the Constitution of India deal with the aspects of citizenship, such as acquisition of citizenship by birth, descent, naturalization, registration,and relinquishment of Citizenship by renunciation, and termination.
    • Citizenship is listed in the Union List under the Constitution and thus is under the exclusive jurisdiction of Parliament.
  • Citizenship Act:
    • The Parliament has enacted the Citizenship Act, 1955 to regulate the matters of citizenship in India.
    • The Citizenship Act, 1955 has been amended six times since its enactment. The amendments were made in the years 1986, 1992, 2003, 2005, 2015, and 2019.
    • The latest amendment was made in 2019, which granted citizenship to certain illegal migrants belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, who entered India on or before 31st December 2014.

Legal Insights

Read comprehensively about the Citizenship

Drishti Judiciary

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year’s Question (PYQs)


Q. With reference to India, consider the following statements:

  1. There is only one citizenship and one domicile.
  2. A citizen by birth only can become the Head of State.
  3. A foreigner once granted citizenship cannot be deprived of it under any circumstances.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) 1 and 3
(d) 2 and 3

Ans: (a)

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