Citizenship and Related Issues

SC view on foreigner’s detention defies constitutional obligationsMains Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NRC

Mains level : Issues over NRC


  • CJI in a statement had ordered greater detention of suspected foreigners in Assam.
  • The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has said the apex court’s remark was unfortunate and flies in the face of India’s constitutional and international obligations.

Statelessness cited by CHRI

  • CHRI argued that accounts from Assam indicate “arbitrariness and not rule of law” is often used to define those who came post 1971 from Bangladesh — of whatever religious denomination — and those who are Indian nationals.
  • Lakhs are in limbo and now fear that they may become “stateless” because of a process that is mired in a mix of complexity, confusion, lack of precision and prejudice.
  • The Supreme Court needs to reaffirm India’s constitutional and international obligations to rights on complex issues of nationality, detention and deportation and not be unmindful of its own commitment to these duties.

Inability to deport

  • CHRI referred to Article 21 which that no person in India can be deprived of her/his right to life and liberty without due process.
  • There is no deportation agreement with Bangladesh.
  • International law lays down that such deportations can take place only with the consent of the country of origin.
  • Bangladesh has consistently refused to accept that its citizens migrate in large numbers to India.
  • Indeed, Bangladesh regards such unilateral efforts as harmful to a bilateral relationship that is critical for the security and stability of both countries and especially of our eastern region.

What India cannot do?

  • We cannot place ourselves in a situation where we are seen as forcing people out at gunpoint; it would be ethically unjust, wrong in law and draw international condemnation.
  • Any method used must be undertaken within the rule of law frame, be just and fair and designed to minimize individual hardship and tragedy.
  • This is a tragedy of growing intensity which is gathering momentum as a result of the current National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise in Assam.
  • Many of those at risk of being marked foreigners were from the bottom of the economic pyramid, unable to sustain the complex adjudication process needed to establish their citizenship.

Way Forward

  • Inability to address this critical situation adequately and justly would be seen internationally as a gross violation of human rights and a blot on India’s traditional record.
  • The social fault lines could be exacerbated by insensitive handling that could leave many people desperate, particularly youth, with the potential of radicalization.
  • The Court needs to reaffirm India’s constitutional and international obligations to rights on complex issues of nationality, detention and deportation and not be unmindful of its own commitment to these duties.
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