SC refuses to stay Citizenship Act, issues notice to centre
18 December 2019
The Supreme Court has refused to stay the Citizenship Amendment Act, but issued notice to the centre asking it to file replies by the second week of January before the matter comes up for hearing on 22 January.
A bench comprising Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant refused to stay the operation of the law until the matter is disposed of as demanded by the petitioners.
The Supreme Court had listed about 60 petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Act, which provides Indian citizenship to non-Muslims fleeing religious persecution in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh and arrived in India before December 2014.
Among those who have filed the petitions are Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, Asaduddin Owaisi.
Owaisi has sought a direction from the apex court declaring provisions of the CAA as “unconstitutional, null and void and ultra vires Articles 14, 21 and 25 of the Constitution of India and hence void ab initio”. He said the present Amendment Act miserably fails on the touchstone of Article 14 and the parameters for non-arbitrariness provided therein.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan also filed a petition, representing five human rights activists and academicians led by Harsh Mander. The plea seeks a direction for striking down from the provisions of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 the words “Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian Community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, who entered into India on or before 31st day of December, 2014, or alternatively striking down the entire proviso to Section 2(1)(b) introduced by the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 as unconstitutional, illegal and void”.
Several other petitioners including All Assam Students Union (AASU), Asom Gana Parishad, Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam, Tripura leader Pradyut Deb Barman, Peace Party, NGOs Rihai Manch and Citizens Against Hate, advocate M.L. Sharma, Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Kumar Jha and some law students also approached the apex court challenging the Act.
Some of the pleas also argue that CAA violates the Assam Accord, according to which citizenship can only be granted to those Bangladeshis who entered India before 24 March 1971. Others pointed out that the Act excludes other persecuted groups such as Tamil Sri Lankans, Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, Ahmadiyyas and Hazaras in Pakistan. The petitions argue that the exclusion of these groups leads to unequal treatment of equals.