Supreme Court refuses to stay Citizenship Amendment Act

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay the Citizenship Amendment act 2019. Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad A. Bobde instead orally asked the government to publicise the actual intent of the Act so that there was no confusion among the public about its objectives.

Violence, riots, arson, police action on protesting students have spread to various parts of the country since the notification of the Act on December 12.

“There is need to publicise why the Act [CAA] is passed. There is a need for that,” Justice Bobde addressed Attorney General K.K. Venugopal for the Centre. “I agree. We will see to it,” Mr. Venugopal responded.

A bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde and justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant fixed 59 petitions, including those filed by the Indian Union Muslim League and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, for hearing on January 22, next year.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who represented one of the parties, said there was no need to seek the stay on the operation of CAA as it has not come into force as several things like framing of rules under the law are yet to be done.

The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), one of the petitioners which has challenged the CAA, said in its plea that it violates the fundamental Right to Equality and intends to grant citizenship to a section of illegal immigrants by making an exclusion on the basis of religion.

Parliament recently cleared the Act, which grants citizenship rights to religious minorities such as Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains and Buddhists, who have come to India on or before December 31, 2014.

President Ram Nath Kovind had given assent to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on December 12, turning it into an Act.

The plea by IUML, filed through advocate Pallavi Pratap, seeks an interim stay on the operation of CAB and the Foreigner Amendment (Order), 2015 and Passport (Entry Into Rules), Amendment Rules, 2015.

The petition alleged that the government’s CAB was against the basic structure of the Constitution and intended to explicitly discriminate against Muslims as the Act extended benefits only to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians.

The plea filed by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, has said that the Act is a “brazen attack” on core fundamental rights envisaged under the Constitution and treats “equals as unequal”.

In his petition, Ramesh has said that substantial questions of law, including whether religion can be a factor to either acquire or deny citizenship in India, arises for consideration of the court as it is a “patently unconstitutional” amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955.

Several other petitioners include Muslim body Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, All Assam Students Union (AASU), Peace Party, NGOs ‘Rihai Manch’ and Citizens Against Hate, advocate M L Sharma, law students have also approached the apex court challenging the Act.