Supreme Court to hear pleas against CAA on September 12
A bench comprising CJI Uday Umesh Lalit and S Ravindra Bhat will hear the batch of over a hundred connected petitions, questioning the validity of the law on grounds of religious discrimination and arbitrariness. The petitions came up for a hearing before the top court in June 2021.
After a gap of over a year, the Supreme Court will on September 12 take up a clutch of petitions challenging the validity of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019, which aims at granting fast-track citizenship to non-Muslim refugees who came to India because of religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan on or before December 31, 2014.
A bench comprising Chief Justice of India Uday Umesh Lalit and S Ravindra Bhat will hear the batch of over a hundred connected petitions, questioning the validity of the law on grounds of religious discrimination and arbitrariness. The petitions came up for a hearing before the top court in June 2021.
The court had in January 2020 issued a notice to the Union government on the petitions but declined to stay the law. It had also restrained all high courts from hearing the pleas on CAA till it decides the matter.
In March 2020, the Centre filed its affidavit, defending the legislation on the argument that CAA does not violate any fundamental right or affect the legal, democratic and secular rights of any Indian citizens.
The affidavit said history depicts that persecuted minorities in the three countries – Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh – were left without any rights and historical injustice is sought to be remedied by the amendment without taking away or whittling down the right of any other person.
The claim that CAA is against any particular community is erroneous, unfounded and designedly mischievous, said the affidavit, adding the existing regime for obtaining citizenship of India by foreigners of any country is untouched by CAA.
“The recognition of religious persecution in the particular neighbouring states, which have a specific state religion and long history of religious persecution of minorities, is actually a reinstatement of Indian ideals of secularism, equality and fraternity,” the March 2020 affidavit stated.
It also came out clean on a pan-Indian National Register of Citizens (NRC), maintaining that NRC is a necessary exercise for any sovereign country “for identification of citizens from non-citizens” while claiming that it has been part of the Citizenship Act, 1955 since December 2004.
The petitioners challenging the validity of the law include Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, the Indian Union Muslim League, and its MPs, Lok Sabha MP and AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi, RJD leader Manoj Jha, TMC MP Mahua Moitra, All Assam Students’ Union and Tripura royal scion Pradyot Kishore Deb Barman.
These pleas have contended that the law violates the right to equality and intends to grant citizenship to a section of illegal immigrants by making an exclusion on the basis of religion. In 2019, violent protests erupted after Parliament approved the then Citizenship Amendment Bill. It was as notified on December 12, 2019 and came into effect from January 10, 2020.