‘Not their choice’: MHA rebuffs 5 states who ‘won’t implement’ citizenship law
Senior government officials said that once the Centre issues the notification to bring the new amendments into force, the state governments will have to abide by the law of the land.Updated: Dec 13, 2019 19:08 IST
Chief Ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh on Friday joined the campaign against changes in the citizenship law, declaring that they may not implement the new law. But the five states ruled by opposition parties were snubbed by the home ministry that delivered a clear message that it wasn’t their call to take.
Senior government officials said that once the Centre issues the notification to bring the new amendments into force, the state governments will have to abide by the law of the land.
“This is the constitutional scheme of things… and a government cannot be run any way other than in accordance with the Constitution,” a senior government official said.
The official suggested that the statements by the chief ministers appeared to be in the nature of political positioning and headline hunting rather than anything else.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was among the first to declare that it would not implement the new citizenship law which it considers to be “unconstitutional”.
“In Kerala nobody has to feel any apprehension in this regard. We will not implement the lopsided law which is meant to divide people,” he said in the state capital on Thursday. Punjab and West Bengal were the first to sign up to this approach. On Friday, chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh Kamal Nath and Bhupesh Baghel also issued similar statements.
The Citizenship Amendment Act has amended the definition of illegal immigrant for Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Christian, Jain and Buddhist from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, who entered India without documentation before 31 December 2014.
According to these changes, people of these communities will be entitled to get Indian citizenship in six years - instead of 12 years - and the cut off date is December 31, 2014. Besides, once they apply, they will be insulated from all proceedings for entering the country illegally.
It has also been pointed out that there was a limited role for the state governments in the entire exercise.
This, officials said, implies that the states have a rather limited role to play in the exercise.
The law has been designed in such a way that its success will depend on the people it seeks to help coming forward to register, not on the state’s enforcement.