The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay a 2019 presidential order that excludes Assam from the Inner Line Permit system and asked the Centre to respond to two petitions challenging the order, Live Law reported.

The Inner Line Permit is a document required by foreigners or non-local Indian citizens to enter places designated “protected areas”. It covers the whole of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, most of Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura, Manipur and certain pockets of Assam. The Citizenship Amendment Act, which provides citizenship to refugees of six minority communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, provided they have entered India on or before December 31, 2014, will not apply to the areas under Inner Line Permit.

A top court bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy told the petitioners – two students’ unions from Assam – that it cannot grant an interim stay on the order without hearing the Centre’s stand.

The All Tai Ahom Students’ Union and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad had argued that the presidential order to amend the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, was unconstitutional. Both the students’ unions have sought the Inner Line Permit system for Assam, to insulate the state from the Citizenship Amendment Act.

“It is a well-known fact to the Central government that the state of Assam is facing tremendous problems due to the influx of illegal immigrants and under such a situation, bringing Adaption of Laws (Amendment) Order 2019 so as to deprive the state of Assam from the applicability of Section 6B(4) of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 is a sheer violation of the Articles 14, 21, 29, 325,326 and 355 of the Constitution of India,” the petitioners said.

Also read:

  1. As Manipur gets Inner Line Permit, many Citizenship Bill protestors are still unconvinced
  2. Amit Shah offers North East tribal areas exemptions in the citizenship bill – but fails to convince

The widespread fear in the North East is that populations defined as indigenous to the region will be culturally and physically overrun by migrants as a result of the amended citizenship law. To address the problem, the Centre had introduced geographical exemptions in the Citizenship Amendment Bill for tribal-dominated Sixth Schedule and Inner Line Permit areas. It even extended the Inner Line Permit regime to the state of Manipur and Dimapur in Nagaland overnight. While the exemptions had quietened the protests in most states, protests in Assam escalated, since most areas in the state are not covered by the exemptions.