The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that it will begin hearing a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955, from October 17, reported Live Law.

A Constitution bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justices AS Bopanna, MM Sundresh, JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra will hear the petitions.

Section 6A of the Act is a special provision that deals with the citizenship of those covered by the Assam Accord of 1985.

The Assam Accord is an agreement between the Centre, the state government and organisations that led protests seeking the deportation of foreigners. Section 6A, which was inserted in the Citizenship Act in 1985, states that those who came to Assam from Bangladesh between January 1, 1966, and March 25, 1971, have to register themselves for Indian citizenship under the Act.

Seventeen petitions challenging the provision are pending before the Supreme Court.

The Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha, one of the petitioners, has contended that Section 6A is discriminatory and arbitrary as it provides different cut-off dates for granting citizenship to undocumented immigrants who entered Assam and those who entered the rest of the country. The organisation had filed the petition in 2012.

The Union government has insisted that section is valid and has urged the court to dismiss the petitions, reported The Hindu.

In December 2014, the Supreme Court had framed 13 questions, including whether the provision diluted the “political rights” of Assam citizens, whether it violated the rights of the Assamese people to conserve their cultural rights and whether an influx of illegal migrants in India constituted “external aggression” and “internal disturbance”.

However, on January 10, the Supreme Court said that the preliminary issue in the matter is whether the section “suffers from any constitutional infirmity”, adding that this would cover all other issues, reported Live Law.