News & Information From Northeast India

Will CAA turn out to be another IMDT for Assam?

Will Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) turn out to be another Illegal Migrants Determination Tribunal (IMDT) Act which was scrapped after a long legal battle?

Ironically, the man who was responsible for revoking the IMDT Act, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, is now facing the fire for supporting Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 which allegedly “paved the way for illegal migrants to settle in Assam excluding Muslims”.

IMDT was bought in by late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1983 which on paper envisages to detect, deport, illegal migrants but was made in such way that it actually turned out be ‘Raksha Kavach’ of the illegal migrants.

The basic point of the law was that the onus lies with the complainant to prove that anyone is an illegal migrant. So basically this very clause made it difficult for the tribunal court set up under the act to prosecute anyone whose citizenship was under doubt.

Even many times, the state failed to provide enough evidence to the court when it comes to the detection of foreigners.

The IMDT Act was in place for nearly 22 years since it was enacted in Indian constitution in 1983. It was finally scrapped on the petition filed by present chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal who was then a student leader.

In 2005 apex court struck down the law which instead of detecting foreigners was becoming a stumbling block.

In fact, Sonowal then was hailed as a ‘Jatiya Nayak’ for taking the lead in scrapping the law. After that, he rose to political prominence.

Stark contrast, now Sonowal was being alleged by the student body, agitators for undermining the spirit of Assamese regionalism by pushing ahead with Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB).

Now the question here is that will another long drawn legal battle ensure the same fate for CAA like the IMDT Act? The influential All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) has already moved to the court against CAB which now has formally become an act.

The act allows persecuted Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Buddhists, Jains to apply for citizenship under the act who has entered India till December 31, 2014.


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