NEW DELHI — The UN Human Rights Council has moved an intervention application in the Supreme Court criticizing the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as it puts Muslim migrants at risk and also has issues of reasonableness and objectivity, which may not be in sync with India’s commitment to international covenants.
The application was filed by Michelle Bachelet Jeria, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (the High Commissioner).
The High Commissioner has sought to intervene as amicus curiae (third-party) in the case, citing her mandate to protect and promote all human rights and to conduct necessary advocacy established pursuant to the UN General Assembly resolution.
“While reducing the risk of refoulement for certain communities, the CAA unequally places other communities at such risk. Accordingly, the narrow scope of the CAA, which extends protection from return only on religious grounds and limited to the specific ethno-religious groups, may not be sufficiently objective and reasonable in light of the broad prohibition of refoulement under international human rights law,” said the High Commissioner in the application.
The application said that for the purpose of this intervention application, in the present case, the question is therefore not a matter of the general purpose of the law, but whether the differentiations drawn within the law (CAA), namely the exclusion of persons from the scope of the law, on the basis of their religion is sufficiently objective and reasonable.
The application says the CAA protects Afghan, Bangladeshi and Pakistani Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Parsi and Sikh migrants who meet the conditions set out in the CAA from being returned to a country where they would face persecution on religious grounds, by addressing their irregular migration status by providing them with an expedited pathway to citizenship.
“While this is a worthy and commendable objective, it raises a number of issues related to India’s wider human rights obligations in the context of the fundamental principle of non-refoulement,” added the plea.
Responding to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) for filing an intervention plea on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) with the Supreme court, India has said that this is an internal matter and no foreign party has any standing on issues pertaining to the country’s sovereignty, according to reports.
“The Citizenship Amendment Act is an internal matter of India and concerns the sovereign right of the Indian Parliament to make laws. We strongly believe that no foreign party has any locus standi on issues pertaining to India’s sovereignty,” the Ministry of External Affairs said.
The plea by the UNHRC asked the court to make the UN agency a party in the case against the CAA that is being heard by the top court, NDTV reported.
“We are clear that the CAA is constitutionally valid and complies with all requirements of our constitutional values. It is reflective of our long standing national commitment in respect of human rights issues arising from the tragedy of the Partition of India,” the ministry said.
(With inputs from agencies)