Proviso in new citizenship law unconstitutional: Justice Lokur
The proviso to the definition of “illegal migrant” inserted in the Citizenship (Amendment) Act is clearly unconstitutional provided one agrees with a law laid down by the Supreme Court in 1952, Justice Madan Lokur, a former judge of the Supreme Court, said in an interview with HT on Sunday.
He also said there was a twin requirement of rational classification and reasonable nexus to pass the test of Article 14, which deals with equality, and that this was forgotten in the present debate over the legislation.
The new law, which promises citizenship to non-Muslim minorities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, has triggered violent protests in several parts of the country, and at least 24 people have been killed since the Parliament approved the new law on December 11.
Justice Lokur also spoke on several issues, including the encounter death of four people accused of raping and murdering a young woman in Hyderabad, and the historic press conference by four Supreme Court judges in 2018.
“There is a distinction between an encounter death and extrajudicial killing. What happened in Telangana is extrajudicial killing. Whether it was the result of an encounter that endangered the life of the policemen and whether all four accused were required to be killed is being inquired into,” said Justice Lokur, who is now a Supreme Court judge in Fiji.
The police, earlier this month, shot dead four men accused of the gang rape and murder of the 26-year-old woman on the outskirts of Hyderabad, triggering a fierce debate on justice delivery and violation of due processes. The police, however, said the four men snatched weapons from the guards and tried to escape, but were gunned down in a crossfire.
On the historic January 2018 press conference, Justice Lokur said the move did bring about some change, but admitted that it was not enough. “No, I do not regret the so-called press conference,” he added.
Justice Lokur was part of that press conference alongside Justices J Chelameshwar, Ranjan Gogoi and Kurian Joseph, who questioned the functioning of the Supreme Court under then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. All of them have since retired.