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Detecting illegal migrants not EC's job - The Hindustan Times

Darshan Balwally ()
16 February 1997

Title : Detecting illegal migrants not EC's job
Author : Darshan Balwally
Publication : The Hindustan Times
Date : February 16, 1997

Election Commissioner G. V. G. Krishnamurthy today distanced -the
Commission from the job of detecting illegal migrants whose names
are reportedly appearing in the electoral rolls.

Admitting that names of illegal migrants had been included in the
Assam electoral rolls, Mr Krishnamurthy said that detection as also
deportation was to be done by the Union Home Ministry.

"The Election Commission can and will delete such names of illegal
migrants only when the Union Home Ministry proves them to be so".
Mr Krishnamurthy dispelled any doubts remaining among political and
social organisations including student unions that the Election
Commission was empowered to detect and delete such names of illegal

Citing two prominent cases decided by the Supreme Court and the
Guwahati High Courts respectively in February 1995 and January
1994, Mr Krishnamurthy pointed out that the courts had ruled the
issue to be one of citizenship which fell under the Indian
Citizenship Act, 1955, which was amended in 1985 after the Assam
accord was signed in that year. As per this amendment the
guidelines laid down by the courts for citizenship rights were as

1) Any person who is an original inhabitant, his children and
descendants are Indian citizens.

2) Persons originally from other States of the Indian Union who
have migrated to Assam, their children and descendants are also
Indian citizens.

3) Migrants from Bangladesh before January 1, 1966 and whose names
are listed in the electoral rolls for the Lok Sabha elections of
1967 will be deemed as Indian citizens.

4) Migrants from Bangladesh to India between January 1, 1966 and
March 24, 1971 shall be deemed as non-citizens and shall continue
to be considered as such for a period of ten years from the date of
detection even if they are included in the electoral rolls by

5) The authority to determine whether any person is an Indian
citizen or otherwise vests with the Government of India.(Ministry
of Home Affairs) and not the Election Commission of India, or its
agents such as the Chief Electoral Officer, enumerators among

6) Illegal migrants are not eligible to vote and their names have
to be deleted from the electoral rolls.

7) However, the children of illegal migrants born in India as also
their descendants thereof would be deemed as Indian citizens and
are eligible to vote while the original illegal migrant/s is/are
not. The elaborate clarification from the Chief Election
Commissioner came in the wake of persistent efforts by various
student and social organisation in Assam and other parts of the
north-eastern States to pressure the Election Commission of India
to stand in judgement over who is or not an Indian citizen.

Mr Krishnamurthy said that the Election Commission would follow the
guidelines laid down by the courts as also try to accommodate all
points of view on the contentious issue of illegal migrants hopping
into the electoral rolls under the mistaken impression that thereby
they could prove their citizenship and permanently reside in the

He said that a process of identifying the most affected areas due
to illegal migration would be ascertained from the State Government
and enumeration work of the Election Commission in its bid to carry
out intensive revision would be more strict in such areas. He,
however, parried a querry on the areas identified by the State

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