Maharashtra govt may oppose Citizenship (Amendment) Act
According to officials from the home department, although the Act is part of central list and is under the purview of the central government, the state has the power to implement it.Updated: Dec 15, 2019 05:54 IST
The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi, which is led by chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, is likely to oppose the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in the state, like some of the other states that are not ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The President gave nod to the Bill, passed recently by Parliament, on Friday, making it an Act.
MVA is an alliance between the Shiv Sena, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). The Shiv Sena opposed the bill in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday after supporting it in the Lok Sabha two days earlier. The change in the stance came after the Congress expressed its displeasure.
Senior Shiv Sena leader and home minister Eknath Shinde said his government would ensure that people of all castes, religion and language feel safe in the state and get a right to earn a living. “Our government belongs to people from all sects, castes and religion. Our priority is maintaining law and order, and a free atmosphere. The final decision on implementation of CAB will be taken after due deliberation with leaders from all three parties,” he said.
Shinde said the implementation of CAA and National Register of Citizens (NRC) is in the hands of the state government. “Many other states too have opposed the bill. The Shiv Sena opposed the bill in the Rajya Sabha, by raising some concerns which were never addressed,” he said. Congress leader and PWD minister Nitin Raut has written to Thackeray to oppose the implementation. “The Congress has opposed the bill in parliament and we are against its implementation in Maharashtra. I am sure the Sena and its leadership will continue with the stand they took in the Rajya Sabha,” he said.
Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat, however, said the party’s stand on implementation of CAA in Maharashtra will be decided after consulting with the party leadership.
According to officials from the home department, although the Act is part of central list and is under the purview of the central government, the state has the power to implement it. “Monitoring and implementation of NRC is in the hands of the state government. The protesting states are relying on those powers in the context of CAA too,” said an official from Mantralaya.
An official from the home department said that the ministry of home affairs of central government has delegated powers of giving citizenship to a few states in 2016. “Besides Maharashtra, six other states were given the powers to allocate the citizenship to minority communities such as Sikhs, Jains, Hindus, Parsis, Christians, except Muslims. In five districts of Maharashtra, the powers are delegated to the respective district collectors. The powers of allotting citizenship to Muslims are still with the Centre,” the official said.
Another official said the decision on implementation or opposing the bill was possible only after the central government issues directives to the states. “The ruling parties in the state are in favour of citizenship for minority communities, including Muslims, although the powers delegated are not for the Muslim community. It also needs to be seen if the Centre keeps adequate powers related to the NRC with the state government,” he said.
Former advocate general of Maharashtra, Shreehari Aney, said, “I don’t know on what basis the state government plans to oppose the central law. It is true that the implementation is always done by the state government. In case a state throws a spanner in the implementation, the Centre can invoke its powers for effective implementation of the law. The powers delegated to the state government for citizenship can be revoked by the Centre.”
Meanwhile, in the backdrop of the opposition from the Congress, BJP legislator Ashish Shelar has urged chief minister Uddhav Thackeray to clear his stand on CAA and start its immediate implementation. In a letter to Thackeray, Shelar said, “The people of Maharashtra have welcomed the amendment which was in the interest of the country. The state should begin its immediate implementation.”