HC dismisses PIL seeking Chakma- Hajongs’ enrolment in electoral roll


ITANAGAR, May 13: The Itanagar Permanent Bench of Gauhati High Court has dismissed the 2017 Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by one Amal Kumar Chakma and others that claimed they are the citizens of India by birth and therefore their names should be enrolled in the electoral roll under the Arunachal Pradesh Panchayati Raj.

Addressing a press conference here today, AAPSU’s legal adviser Marto Kato informed that the PIL, No.20(AP)/2017, claimed that they (Chakmas & Hajongs) are citizens of India by birth, therefore, their names should be enrolled in the Electoral Roll under the Arunachal Panchayati  Raj, 1997 as they are presently residing in 46 Chakma & Hajong villages in Changlang, Namsai and Papum Pare districts of Arunachal Pradesh and that, those villages be declared as Gram Panchayat, Anchal Samiti and Zilla Parishad segments under the AP Panchayati Raj Act, 1997 and Rules, 2002.

Subsequently, the AAPSU has filed an affidavit by challenging the PIL filed by Chakma and Hajongs and after hearing of the PIL 33 times on different dates in between 2017 and 2022 in the Division Bench of the High Court, finally, the hearing was concluded on March 11 last. The court passed judgment and order on May 10 dismissing the PIL, he said, while adding that this win is not only for AAPSU but also for the state government and the people of the state.

He said that the Court observed that whether these Chakma & Hajongs are citizen of India by birth or not and the same issue raised by AAPSU in SLP (Special Leave Petitions) before the Supreme Court and same is sub-judice. “The High Court also observed that as per the Khudiram Chakma case 1996 and 2002 where it was cleared that the Chakma and Hajongs are foreigner, therefore their name cannot be enrolled in Arunachal Pradesh Panchayat Raj Act 1997,” he added.

‘The court observed that the fundamental right to foreigner is confined to Article 21 of the Constitution of India, for life and liberty and does not include the right to reside and settle in this country.

The court also held that the Chakma people had no right to seek a permanent place of abode in that area and that the authorities had every right requiring them to shift (as per the Khudiram Chakma case).

‘The Right to settle anywhere is not available to the Chakma Refugee, as per section-3 of the Foreigner Act, 1946, Clause-9 of the Foreigner's order, 1948 and Section-6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955. Regarding giving settlements to Chakma is only rights to State government, and no direction can be issued on the Government in discharge of its Legislative duties by court, and as per Sec-2(xvii) of the 1997 Act, it would be the prerogative of the Government to declare an area recognized to be village.

“Therefore, to notify such an area to be a village within the meaning of 1997 Act, is the policy decision of the State, and as per decision of the Supreme Court in Khudiram Chakma case, the Court cannot enter into the wisdom of a policy of the State of Arunachal Pradesh’.

Advocate Kato requested the State Government and the State Election Commission to immediately delete the list of Chakma and Hajong refugees enrolled in electoral roll of the state.