The Supreme Court of India has established a prestigious five-judge Constitution Bench, presided over by Chief Justice of India (CJI) D Y Chandrachud. This distinguished panel, comprising Justices A S Bopanna, M M Sundresh, J B Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra, is tasked with deliberating on three pivotal cases, each carrying profound constitutional implications.
1. Assam Public Works vs. Union of India & Ors.:
This case examines the constitutional soundness of Section 6A of The Citizenship Act, 1955. This section, introduced in 1985 following the Assam Accord, delineates “Special provisions as to citizenship of persons covered by the Assam Accord.” It necessitates individuals who arrived in Assam between January 1, 1966, and March 25, 1971, from specific territories, including former Bangladesh regions, to register for citizenship under specified regulations.
A civil society group, the Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha, challenged this provision in 2012, asserting its discriminatory and arbitrary nature, citing differing cut-off dates for legalizing migrants in Assam and other parts of India.
2. Ashok Kumar Jain vs. Union of India and Ors.:
This case confronts the validity of The Constitution (79th Amendment) Act, 1999, which extended reservations for Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), and Anglo-Indians in Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies beyond the original ten-year period defined in Article 334 of the Constitution.
Article 334, initially slated for a decade, has been amended multiple times, extending reservations for SCs, STs, and Anglo-Indians for 70, 80, and subsequently 80 years again, though Anglo-Indian reservations were discontinued in 2020. This case will be of great significance in interpreting constitutional provisions on reservations.
3. Sita Soren v. Union of India:
This case pertains to Article 194(2) of the Constitution, which raises questions about legislative members’ immunity from criminal prosecution regarding offenses such as offering or accepting bribes for voting. Article 194(2) states that legislative members shall not be liable to any court proceedings for their actions in the Legislature or its committees.
The case stems from allegations against Sita Soren, a Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) member, accused of accepting a bribe in the 2012 Rajya Sabha elections. She contends that Article 194(2) shields her from prosecution. The Supreme Court is poised to decide the scope and limits of legislative immunity.
These cases collectively address pivotal aspects of Indian law and governance, promising to shape the nation’s legal landscape for years to come.