As Supreme Court refuses to stall implementation of Citizenship (Amendment) Act, here is what petitioners are seeking

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Dec 18, 2019, 01.39 PM(IST)

SC to start final hearing on pleas challenging Maratha reservation Photograph:( ANI )

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The court also issued a notice to the Centre on a batch of pleas challenging the CAA, asking the Centre to file its response by the second week of January. 

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stall the implementation of Citizenship (Amendment) Act after a three judge-bench led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde along with Justice BR Gavai and Justice Surya Kant heard 20 petitions challenging the Act. 

Up to 60 petitions have been filed so far questioning the legal validity of the Act that has stirred violent protests throughout the country.

The court also issued a notice to the Centre on a batch of pleas challenging the CAA, asking the Centre to file its response by the second week of January. 

The petitioners come from all walks of life including Political parties like Indian union of Muslim League, Asom Gana Parishad, Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam; leading politicians Jairam Ramesh, Mahua Moitra and Asaduddin Owaisi; a lawyers association from Assam and student movements like Democratic Youth Federation of India and All Assam Students Union. 

The petitioners want the newly enforced law to be struck down as violative of Fundamental Rights (Article 14), opposed to Secularism that forms a basic feature of our Constitution and also wants the Court to decide whether religion can be the basis to declare someone a citizen as it has never happened in the past.

The petitioners want to know the basis on which Centre has concluded that non-Muslim migrants need to be included as citizens while denying it to Muslim migrants along with questioning the discretion of Centre to exclude Sri Lanka and Burma where religious persecution has forced many to take shelter in India.

They question the assumption that Muslims in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh face no discrimination and list out Shias and Ahmediyas in Pakistan and Hazaras in Afghanistan as examples.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 became an Act after receiving formal assent from President Ram Nath Kovind on December 13. 

The highly contentious Act seeks to grant Indian citizenship to undocumented religious minorities-namely Hindus, Sikh, Jain, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians from the neighbouring Pakistan, Bangladesh or Afghanistan who moved to the country before the date of December 31, 2014.

 It amends the Citizenship Act, 1955 which regulates who may acquire Indian citizenship and on what grounds by adding provisions for Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community in section 2, in sub-section (1), in clause (b) that they shall not be treated as illegal migrants. Illegal migrants are not eligible for Indian Citizenship.

 Under the provisions for procurement of citizenship by naturalisation, the BJP lead Indian government seeks to amend the requirement that the applicant must have resided in India "not less than five years" in place of "not less than eleven years" for the mentioned six religious communities from the three Muslim majority countries through Section 2(1) (b).

The Bill also seeks to amend provisions related to Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cardholders, making it possible to cancel OCI registration of these persons in case of violation of any law notified by the Central Government.

The apex court said it would hear petitions challenging the law on January 22 as December 18 is the last working day of the Supreme Court before it reopens January 1 after winter break.

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