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Assam Accord: Gauhati HC directs government to clarify it's stand on the implementation of Clause 6

Assam Accord: Gauhati HC directs government to clarify it's stand on the implementation of Clause 6

Over the years, a number of committees have been established to provide suggestions regarding the implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord. However, until the most recent one, which was established by the Home Ministry in 2019, none of them made progress on the thorny problems surrounding the provision.

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Clause 6 of Assam Accord: (L-R) Samujjal Bhattacharya, Dipankar Kumar Nath, Lurinjyoti Gogoi Clause 6 of Assam Accord: (L-R) Samujjal Bhattacharya, Dipankar Kumar Nath, Lurinjyoti Gogoi

Months have passed, many protests have taken place, but the final status of the implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord continues to remain shrouded in uncertainties. 

Amid politicisation over the implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, the Union Home Ministry had set up a high-level committee to implement Clause 6 during the previous tenure of the coalition government in Assam. 

The committee headed by retired Gauhati High Court judge Biplab Kumar Sharma, had directed the committee to prepare a report registering all demands and later submit the report to the Assam government. But for years, the report of the implementation committee of Clause 6 has been lying in Dispur, with no action taken on it by the government. 

It may be recalled that the report of clause 6 implementation committee recommended protection of the rights of the indigenous people of the state as well as 80-100 per cent reservation for the indigenous people in Assam government jobs. 

In the earlier hearing of the said public interest litigation registered under case no. 52/2022, the High Court had directed the Central Government to clarify its stand. The central government's counsel sought additional time to file an affidavit in the next hearing of the case on Wednesday. 

Accordingly, a division bench of the high court posted the matter for further hearing on August 26, directing it to clarify the action taken in the implementation of the recommendations of Clause 6 implementation committee regarding reservation of jobs for the indigenous people of the state.

Speaking to India Today NE exclusively on the recent development, AASU Chief Advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya said, “I don’t know the contents of the petition filed and who filed the petition. The committee members need to know what the petition states. We have engaged one person to read the petition as it is a serious issue. We have to also see that if the petitioner is contradicting our demands. Our demands should in no way be contradicted and for this we need to talk to the petitioner. You know that former Judge of Gauhati High Court Biplab Kumar Sharma was the member of the high-level committee and one who had signed the report the committee members had presented. So we have to see whether the petition reflects what is being mentioned in the report. Now what we have read in the newspaper we have learnt that the petitioner is demanding for 80 percent job reservation, but we from AASU have demanded for 100 percent job reservation for the Assamese people. So speaking anything on this will not be good without reading the petition.”

What is Clause 6 of Assam Accord?

Part of the Assam Accord came into prominence at the culmination of a movement against immigration from Bangladesh. The Clause 6 reads, “Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.”

Over the years, a number of committees have been established to provide suggestions regarding the implementation of Clause 6. However, until the most recent one, which was established by the Home Ministry in 2019, none of them made progress on the thorny problems surrounding the provision.

Following widespread protests opposing the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which is now an Act, an effort to appease the Assamese population was initiated by the government who quickly pushed through Clause 6.

The committee, which included members of the legal profession, former government employees, academics, journalists, and AASU office holders, was chaired by retired High Court judge Biplab Kumar Sarma and given a deadline to submit its report. The administration provided a report in February, but kept its specifics from the general public.

Its mandate was to define the "Assamese people" and offer suggestions for protecting their rights. For many years, people have debated what generally defines the "Assamese people."