CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
                    WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.510 OF 2007
                               J U D G M E N T
1.    This petition under Article 32 of the  Constitution  of  India  mainly
seeks direction against Union of India through Ministry of Home  Affairs  to
grant citizenship to the Chakma and Hajong Tribals who migrated to India  in
1964-1969 and were settled in the State of Arunachal Pradesh.
2.    Petitioner No.1 has described itself  as  “Committee  for  Citizenship
Rights of the Chakmas of Arunachal  Pradesh”  (“CCRC”).   According  to  the
averments in the petition, representations  were  filed  with  the  National
Human  Rights  Commission  (“NHRC”)  alleging  persecution  of  Chakmas  and
Hajongs in the State of Arunachal Pradesh.  The NHRC approached  this  Court
by way of a Writ Petition (C) No.720 of 1995 titled “National  Human  Rights
Commission vs. State of  Arunachal  Pradesh”  seeking  direction  from  this
Court to ensure that the Chakmas and Hajongs are not  forcibly  ousted  from
the State of Arunachal Pradesh,  which  was  disposed  of  on  9th  January,
1996 [(1996) 1 SCC 742].   In the said case, the Union of India appeared before  this  Court
and stated that decision to settle the Chakmas in  the  State  of  Arunachal
Pradesh was taken after discussion between the Government of India  and  the
North-East Frontier  Agency  (“NEFA”)  Administration  (Predecessor  of  the
State of Arunachal Pradesh).  The Chakmas were  residing  in  the  State  of
Arunachal Pradesh  for  more  than  three  decades  and  had  close  social,
religious and economic ties.  As per joint statement  issued  by  the  Prime
Ministers of India and Bangladesh in February, 1972,  the  Union  Government
took a decision to confer citizenship on the Chakmas under  Section  5(1)(a)
of the Citizenship  Act,  1955  but  the  State  of  Arunachal  Pradesh  had
reservations on this count.  The Central  Government  was  in  favour  of  a
dialogue between the State Government, the  Chakmas  and  all  concerned  to
resolve the issue of granting citizenship while also redressing the  genuine
grievances of citizens of Arunachal Pradesh.  The  stand  of  the  State  of
Arunachal Pradesh was that it had provided basic amenities  to  the  Chakmas
but the State had a right to ask the Chakmas to quit the State.   The  State
could not permit outsiders to settle within its territory as it had  limited
resources and the Union of India had refused to  share  its  responsibility.
The Deputy Commissioner of the area was  to  forward  the  applications  for
citizenship after due inquiry but no such application was pending.   Further
stand of the State was that settlement of Chakmas will  disturb  its  ethnic
balance and destroy its culture and identity.   The  tribals  of  the  State
consider Chakmas as potential threat to their tradition and culture.
3.    This Court considered rival submissions  and  held  that  the  Chakmas
apprehend threat on the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (“AAPSU”)  who
were reported to be enforcing  economic  blockades  on  the  refugee  camps,
adversely affecting supply of ration, medical and  essential  facilities  to
the Chakmas.  Some Chakmas had died on  account  of  blockade.   This  Court
further  noticed  that  Chakmas  could  invoke  Section   5(1)(a)   of   the
Citizenship Act by filing application in form prescribed by Part II  of  the
Citizenship           Rules, 1956.  The observations in NHRC  case  (supra),
inter alia, are as follows :-
“18. From what we have  said  hereinbefore,  there  is  no  doubt  that  the
Chakmas who migrated from East Pakistan  (now  Bangladesh)  in  1964,  first
settled down in the State of Assam and then shifted to areas which now  fall
within the State of Arunachal Pradesh. They have  settled  there  since  the
last about two and a half decades and have  raised  their  families  in  the
said State. Their children have married and  they  too  have  had  children.
Thus, a large number of them were born  in  the  State  itself.  Now  it  is
proposed to uproot them by force. The AAPSU has been giving out  threats  to
forcibly drive  them  out  to  the  neighbouring  State  which  in  turn  is
unwilling to accept them. The residents of the neighbouring State have  also
threatened to kill them if they try to enter  their  State.  They  are  thus
sandwiched between two forces, each pushing in opposite direction which  can
only hurt them. Faced with the prospect of annihilation the NHRC was  moved,
which, finding it impossible to extend protection to them, moved this  Court
for certain reliefs.
19. By virtue of their long and prolonged stay in  the  State,  the  Chakmas
who migrated to, and those born in the State,  seek  citizenship  under  the
Constitution read with Section 5 of  the  Act.  We  have  already  indicated
earlier that if a person satisfies the requirements  of  Section  5  of  the
Act, he/she can be registered as a citizen of India.  The  procedure  to  be
followed in processing such requests has been outlined in  Part  II  of  the
Rules. We have adverted to the relevant  rules  hereinbefore.  According  to
these Rules, the  application  for  registration  has  to  be  made  in  the
prescribed form, duly affirmed, to the Collector within  whose  jurisdiction
he resides. After the application is so received, the authority to  register
a person as a citizen of India, is vested in the officer named under Rule  8
of the Rules. Under Rule 9, the Collector  is  expected  to  transmit  every
application under Section 5(1)(a) of the Act to the Central  Government.  On
a conjoint reading of Rules 8 and 9 it becomes clear that the Collector  has
merely to receive the application and forward it to the Central  Government.
It is only the authority constituted under Rule  8  which  is  empowered  to
register a person  as  a  citizen  of  India.  It  follows  that  only  that
authority can refuse to entertain an application made  under  Section  5  of
the Act. Yet it is an admitted fact that after receipt of  the  application,
the Deputy Collector (DC) makes an enquiry and if  the  report  is  adverse,
the DC refuses to forward the application; in other words,  he  rejects  the
application at the  threshold  and  does  not  forward  it  to  the  Central
Government. The grievance of the Central Government is  that  since  the  DC
does not forward the applications, it  is  not  in  a  position  to  take  a
decision whether or not to register the person as a citizen of  India.  That
is why it is said that the DC or Collector,  who  receives  the  application
should be directed to forward the same to the Central Government  to  enable
it to decide the request on merits.  It  is  obvious  that  by  refusing  to
forward the applications of the Chakmas to the Central  Government,  the  DC
is failing in his duty and is also preventing the  Central  Government  from
performing its duty under the Act and the Rules.
20. We are a country governed by the Rule of Law. Our  Constitution  confers
certain rights on every human being and certain other  rights  on  citizens.
Every person is entitled to equality before the law and equal protection  of
the laws. So also, no person  can  be  deprived  of  his  life  or  personal
liberty except according to procedure established by law. Thus the State  is
bound to protect the life and liberty of every human being, be he a  citizen
or otherwise, and it cannot permit any body or group of persons,  e.g.,  the
AAPSU, to threaten the Chakmas to leave the State, failing which they  would
be forced to do so. No State Government worth the  name  can  tolerate  such
threats by one group of persons to another group of  persons;  it  is  duty-
bound to protect the threatened group from such assaults and if it fails  to
do so, it will fail to perform  its  constitutional  as  well  as  statutory
obligations. Those giving such threats would be liable to be dealt  with  in
accordance with law. The State Government must  act  impartially  and  carry
out its legal obligations to safeguard the life, health  and  well-being  of
Chakmas residing in the State without being  inhibited  by  local  politics.
Besides, by refusing to forward their applications, the Chakmas  are  denied
rights, constitutional and statutory, to be considered for being  registered
as citizens of India.”
4.    Accordingly, direction was issued to the State  of  Arunachal  Pradesh
to ensure that life and  liberty  of  Chakmas  residing  in  the  State  was
protected against any attempt to evict them  by  organized  groups  such  as
AAPSU and their applications could be forwarded to the Central Government.
5.    Case of the petitioners, further is that the application of the  State
of Arunachal Pradesh for modification and Writ Petition (C) No.593  of  1997
filed by an  organization  of  tribals  of  Arunachal  Pradesh  against  the
judgment of this Court was also dismissed. Another writ petition being  Writ
Petition No.13 of 1998 against the judgment of this Court was  dismissed  on
9th December, 2002.  Thereafter applications were filed for citizenship  but
the same were not acted upon.  The  Election  Commission  of  India  in  the
light of judgment  of  this  Court  passed  orders  dated  3rd  March,  2004
declaring the resolution dated  14th  May,  2003  passed  by  the  State  of
Arunachal  Pradesh   against   facilities   to   the   petitioners   to   be
unconstitutional but the authorities of the State of Arunachal  Pradesh  had
not forwarded the applications as required under Rule 9 of  the  Citizenship
Rules to the Central Government.
6.    Counter affidavit has been filed by the Union of  India  stating  that
the applications directly received by the  Ministry  of  Home  Affairs  were
forwarded to  the  Government  of  Arunachal  Pradesh  which  had  not  been
returned except few applications with negative  recommendations.   The  said
applications were returned back to  the  Government  of  Arunachal  Pradesh.
Ministry of Home Affairs had advised the Government of Arunachal Pradesh  to
act in compliance with the judgment of this Court.
7.    The stand of the State of Arunachal  Pradesh  is  that  there  was  no
threat to the life and liberty of the Chakmas and  Hajong  refugees.   After
receiving the judgment  of  this  Court,  the  judgment  was  circulated  to
Inspector  General  of  Police,  Deputy  Commissioners  of   the   concerned
Districts and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests.  The State  Government
was fully bound by the direction of this Court and had taken  all  necessary
steps to comply with the same.  The State of Arunachal Pradesh had  received
4382 applications. Though the popular sentiment of  the  indigenous  tribals
was different, the State of Arunachal Pradesh was  honouring  the  order  of
this Court.  It is further  stated  that  Chakmas  and  Hajong  tribes  were
settled in NEFA from 1964 to 1969 when there were no elected bodies  in  the
State of Arunachal Pradesh.  The laws applicable in the State  of  Arunachal
Pradesh like the Government of India Act, 1870, the Bengal Eastern  Frontier
Regulation, 1873, the Scheduled  District  Act,  1874,  the  Assam  Frontier
Tract Regulation, 1880, the Assam  Frontier  Forest  Regulation,  1891,  the
Chin Hills Regulations, 1896  and  the  Assam  Frontier  (Administration  of
Justice) Regulation, 1945 (1 of 1945) were  not  taken  into  account.   One
thousand four hundred  ninety  seven  Chakmas  have  been  included  in  the
electoral rolls.
8.    The  petitioners  have  filed  a  rejoinder  affidavit  alleging  that
children of Chakmas and Hajongs are  denied  educational  facilities.   They
were not being covered by the public distribution system.  They presented  a
petition to the 10th  Lok  Sabha  and  also  to  Rajya  Sabha  Committee  on
Petitions.  The said  Committee  in  its  105th  Report  published  on  14th
August, 1997 made recommendation to grant Indian Citizenship to the  Chakmas
but the said recommendation has not been acted upon.  The recommendation  is
as follows :
“42. The Committee, therefore, recommends  that  the  Chakmas  of  Arunachal
Pradesh who came there prior to 25.3.1971  be  granted  Indian  citizenship.
The Committee also recommends that those  Chakmas  who  have  been  born  in
India should also  be  considered  for  Indian  citizenship.  The  Committee
further recommends that the fate of those Chakmas  who  came  to  the  State
after 25.3.1971 be discussed and  decided  by  the  Central  Government  and
State Government Jointly. The Committees also recommends that  all  the  old
applications of Chakmas for citizenship which have either been  rejected  or
withheld by Deputy Commissioners or the State  Deputy  Commissioner  or  the
State Government continue to block the forwarding of  such  applications  to
Central Government, the  Central  Government  may  consider  to  incorporate
necessary provision in the Rules (or the Act  it  so  required)  whereby  it
could directly receive, consider and decide the application for  citizenship
in the  23  case  of  Chakmas  of  Arunachal  Pradesh.  The  Committee  also
recommends that Chakmas be also considered for granting them the  status  of
Scheduled Tribes at the time of  granting  the  citizenship.  The  Committee
would  like  to  earnestly  urge  upon  the  Central  Government  and  State
Government to ensure  that  until  amicable  solution  is  arrived  at,  the
Chakmas are allowed to stay in Arunachal Pradesh with  full  protection  and
safety, honour and dignity”.
9.    When the matter came up for hearing before this Court on  1st  August,
2012, the following order was passed :-
“Mr. B. Bhattacharyya,  learned  Additional  Solicitor   General         for
respondent No. 5, and Mr. Anil Shrivastav, learned counsel   for  respondent
Nos. 1 to 4, pray for some time to seek  instructions  and  also  to  ensure
that the controversy raised in the Writ Petition  is resolved at  the  hands
of  the  Central  Government  and  the  State Government at the earliest.”
10.   Again on 28th August, 2012, following order was passed :
“Mr. B. Bhattacharyya, learned Additional Solicitor   General      appearing
for  the  respondent   No. 5 - Union  of   India,  submits   that  all  4637
applications for grant of citizenship in  respect  of   Chakmas received  in
the  Ministry  of   Home  Affairs,   Government   of    India   have    been
returned  to  the  State   Government   as   the   applications   were   not
made  to  the  appropriate  authority   in    prescribed   form   and   were
also   not    accompanied    with    the  recommendations   of   the   State
Government   as   per   statutory  requirement.
       Having  regard  to  the  decision  of   this   Court   in    National
Human Rights Commission Vs.   State  of  Arunachal   Pradesh   and  Another,
(1996) 1 SCC 742, and the directions  contained  therein,    we  direct  the
State of Arunachal Pradesh to submit a  comprehensive   report/affidavit  to
this Court  in  respect  of  4637  applications   returned  by  the  Central
Government to the State Government  on  the  following  aspects  in  respect
of each application :-
 (i)  Whether  the  conditions  laid  down  in  the   relevant   clauses  of
Section 5 of   the   Citizenship   Act,   1955   (for   short,   'Act')  are
(ii)        Whether the  applicant  has  an  intention  to  make  India  his
permanent home;
(iii)        Whether  the  applicant  has  signed  oath  of  allegiance   as
specified in the Second Schedule to the Act; and
(iv)  Whether the applicant is  of  good  character  and   is   otherwise  a
fit and proper person to  be  registered  as  a   citizen of India.
      The above report/affidavit  shall  be  submitted  by  the   State   of
Arunachal   Pradesh    to    this    Court     through     the     Secretary
(Political), Government of Arunachal Pradesh within two months from  today.
      A copy of the report/affidavit shall  be  given  to  the  Advocate-on-
Record for the petitioners well in advance.”
11.   On 20th January, 2014, this Court passed the following Order:
“List the matter on 5th May, 2014,  so  as   to   enable   the   Joint  High
Powered  Committee  constituted   vide   Government   of    India's    Order
No.13/2/2010-NE-II dated 10/08/2010. to place on record the  progress   made
in the matter.
      We are sure that the Committee would make all  efforts   so  that  the
work entrusted to it is  concluded  preferably  before  the  next  date   of
12.   Additional Affidavit dated 2nd January, 2013 was filed  by  the  State
of Arunachal Pradesh stating that the Government of India, Ministry of  Home
Affairs (N.E. Division) has constituted a committee under  the  Chairmanship
of Joint Secretary (N.E.), Ministry of Home Affairs on 10th August, 2010  to
examine  various  issues  relating  to  settlement  of  Chakmas/Hajongs   in
Arunachal Pradesh including the possibility of granting  Indian  citizenship
to eligible Chakmas/ Hajongs.  The Committee has held  its  sitting  on  9th
January, 2012 and taken certain decisions.  Thus, the issue  was  not  being
ignored though there was no delay in the matter.
13.   We have heard learned counsel for the parties and perused the record.
14.   Learned counsel for the petitioners submitted that their  rights  have
been duly acknowledged by this Court in NHRC  case  (supra).   Still,  their
legitimate right of citizenship has not  so  far  materialized.   They  have
been settled after  a  conscious  decision  at  the  highest  level  of  the
Government of India.  They could not  be  treated  as  foreigners.   He  has
placed reliance on a judgment of the Gauhati High Court   dated 19th  March,
2013 in PIL No.52 of 2010  titled  “All  Arunachal  Pradesh  Students  Union
(AAPSU) vs. The Election Commission of India” dismissing  a  petition  filed
by AAPSU against the guidelines issued by the Election Commission  of  India
for revision  of  electoral  rolls  in  respect  of  areas  where  there  is
substantial presence of Chakmas and Hajongs.   In  the  said  judgment,  the
Memorandum   dated 23rd March, 2005 issued by  the  Election  Commission  of
India and further  guidelines  dated  3rd  October,  2007  for  revision  of
electoral rolls with reference to 1st January, 2007 as qualifying  date  are
also referred to.  The  objection  against  the  Chakmas  being  treated  as
ordinary residents of Arunachal Pradesh in absence of  possession  of  valid
Inner Line Passes was also considered.  The  Election  Commission  of  India
supported its guidelines with guidelines with reference  to  a  judgment  of
the Delhi High Court dated 28th September,  2000  in  W.P.  No.886  of  2000
(Peoples Union for Civil Liberties vs. Election Commission of India &  Ors.)
15.   In the judgment of the Gauhati  High  Court,  it  was  noted  that  in
contradiction  to  those  unwanted  illegal  migrants  who  sneak  into  the
country, the Chakmas migrated to India on account of their displacement  and
the Government  of  India  agreed  to  grant  them  citizenship.   In  these
circumstances, the guidelines of the Government of India  were  held  to  be
justified and did not warrant any requirement of  Inner  Line  permit.   The
relevant observations are :
“[18] ………. Having regard to the facts  and  circumstances  which  have  been
also highlighted by the Hon'ble Supreme Court as referred to above  in  NRHC
case, we are of the view  that  these  additional  guidelines,  having  been
issued in the  peculiar  circumstances  obtaining,  cannot  be  held  to  be
Further, in view of the policy decision taken by the Government of India  to
settle the Chakma  refugees  in  different  States  and  also  in  Arunachal
Pradesh in consultation with the authorities of the Arunachal  Pradesh,  and
also to confer Indian citizenship, the contention of  the  petitioners  that
the aforesaid guidelines have the effect of violating the provisions of  law
in terms of lack of Inner Line Permit or violation of provisions of  section
13 of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 does not  hold  water.
We are of the view that once a decision  had  been  taken  to  settle  these
Chakma refugees in Arunachal Pradesh in consultation  with  the  authorities
of Arunachal Pradesh, they would become residents of Arunachal  Pradesh  and
would not require the Inner Line  Permit/Pass.  Otherwise  also,  once  they
have been allowed to settle in Arunachal Pradesh, it would  be  deemed  that
such permits had been granted to them and in  our  considered  opinion,  any
other view would  negate  and  defeat  the  policy  decision  taken  by  the
Government of India in consultation with the Arunachal  Pradesh  authorities
to settle these Chakmas in Arunachal Pradesh.
Similarly, as regards, the other contention  of  the  petitioners  that  the
guidelines  would  contravene  the  provisions  of   section   13   of   the
Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 also cannot be accepted. It  may
be noted that the Chakmas had taken refuge in this  country  under  distress
and trying circumstances after having been uprooted from  their  hearth  and
homes and made to flee  to  avoid  persecution.  Further,  later  on,  after
having allowed to settle in Arunachal Pradesh, they had  faced  difficulties
and harassments from the neighbouring local populace which  had  been  taken
note of by the Supreme Court in NHRC case  as  mentioned  above.  Therefore,
issuing of the additional guidelines for the purpose of verification of  the
birth of the claimants on the basis of  other  credible  materials  for  the
purpose of enrolment in the electoral rolls where  these  Chakmas  had  been
officially settled cannot be interfered with merely on the technical  ground
that certain provisions of Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969  have
not been strictly complied with, if the  evidences  are  otherwise  credible
and trustworthy.
We are of the view that the additional guidelines which had been  issued  by
the Election Commission of India are  merely  to  enable  those  Chakmas  to
enjoy such benefits as a citizen of this  Country  including  the  right  to
vote by having their names enrolled in the electoral rolls of the  concerned
constituency where they have been  settled.   Once,  these  Chakma  refugees
have been granted citizenship, they are entitled to  enjoy  all  the  rights
and privileges that flow on becoming a citizen of this country and  further,
 they are entitled  to  have  their  rights  as  citizens  of  this  country
protected and safeguarded.”
16.   We find merit  in  the  contention  of  the  petitioners.   It  stands
acknowledged by this Court on the basis of stand of the Government of  India
that the Chakmas have a right to  be  granted  citizenship  subject  to  the
procedure being followed.  It also stands recognized by  judicial  decisions
that they cannot be required to obtain any Inner Line  permit  as  they  are
settled in the State of Arunachal Pradesh.
17.   In State of Arunachal Pradesh  vs.  Khudiram  Chakma [(1994) Supp. 1 SCC 615],
this  Court noted the ancient history of Arunachal Pradesh as follows :
“41. The history of the  mountainous  and  multitribal  north-east  frontier
region which is now known as  Arunachal  Pradesh  ascends  for  hundreds  of
years into the mists of  tradition  and  mythology.  According  to  Pauranic
legend, Rukmini, the daughter of King Bhishmak, was carried away on the  eve
of her  marriage  by  Lord  Krishna  himself.  The  ruins  of  the  fort  at
Bhalukpung are claimed by the Akas as the original home  of  their  ancestor
Bhaluka, the grandson of Bana Raja, who was  defeated  by  Lord  Krishna  at
Tezpur (Assam). A Kalita King, Ramachandra, driven from his kingdom  in  the
plains of Assam, fled to the Dafla (now Nishang) foothills  and  established
there his capital of Mayapore, which is identified with  the  ruins  on  the
Ita hill. A place of great sanctity in the beautiful lower  reaches  of  the
Lohit River, the Brahmakund, where Parasuram opened a  passage  through  the
hills with a single blow  of  his  mighty  axe,  still  attracts  the  Hindu
pilgrims from all over the country.”
18.   The above history shows the integral link of the  State  of  Arunachal
Pradesh with the rest of the country since ancient times.  It is well  known
that the Chakmas and Hajongs were displaced from the area which became  part
of East Pakistan (now in Bangladesh) on construction of Kaptai Dam and  were
allowed to be rehabilitated under the decision of the Government  of  India.
As earlier held by this Court, the Delhi High Court and Gauhati High  Court,
they need to be protected  and  their  claims  of  citizenship  need  to  be
considered as per applicable procedure.  They  could  not  be  discriminated
against in any manner pending formal conferment of  rights  of  citizenship.
Their status  also  stands  duly  acknowledged  in  the  guidelines  of  the
Election Commission of India.
19.    Learned  Additional  Solicitor  General  fairly   stated   that   the
Government of India will earnestly take appropriate measures in the  matter,
 granted some more time.
20.   Accordingly, we allow this  petition  and  direct  the  Government  of
India and the State of Arunachal  Pradesh  to  finalise  the  conferment  of
citizenship rights on eligible  Chakmas  and  Hajongs  and  also  to  ensure
compliance of directions in judicial decisions referred to in  earlier  part
of this order for protection of their life and  liberty  and  against  their
discrimination in  any  manner.   The  exercise  may  be  completed  at  the
earliest preferably within three months from today.
Justice Anil R Dave
Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel
17 September 2015