NEW DELHI – After passing resolutions in the state assembly, the Kerala government has challenged the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) before the Supreme Court, becoming the first state to do so amid nationwide protests against the religion-based citizenship law.
Kerala’s Left-led government in its petition calls the CAA a violation of several articles of the constitution including the right to equality and says the law goes against the basic principle of secularism in the constitution.
The state government has also challenged the validity of changes made in 2015 to the Passport law and the Foreigners (Amendment) Order, regularising the stay of non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who had entered India before 2015.
The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), eases the path for non-Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to become Indian citizens. Critics fear that the CAA, along with a proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), will pave the way for the disfranchisement of Muslims.
The Kerala petition says the contentious CAA violates Articles 14, 21 and 25 of the constitution.
While Article 14 is about the right to equality, Article 21 says “no person will be deprived of life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law”. Under Article 25, “all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience.”
Several non-BJP governments have refused to carry out the NRC in an attempt to stave off the enforcement of the citizenship law.
Over 60 writ petitions have been filed in Supreme Court so far against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Various political parties, NGOs and also MPs have challenged the law.
The Supreme Court will hear the petitions on January 22.
During the last hearing, petitioners didn’t ask that the law be put on hold as the CAA was not in force. The Act has, however, come into force from January 10 through a home ministry notification.