SC a reluctant warrior in battle to defend soul of Constitution, says Yogendra Yadav
Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI — Prominent activists and political groups on Wednesday expressed dismay and disappointment over the Supreme Court’s ‘casual’ approach on the petitions challenging the amendment to the citizenship law of 1955. They said the judiciary should have taken the matter on a priority and urgent basis, it being a very sensitive issue pertaining to the basic and fundamental rights of the people, who have been protesting in the streets across the country for weeks now.
Protesters say the new law discriminated between people on the basis of their religious faiths. The apex court hearing more than 140 petitions filed against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act directed the Modi government to file its response to these petitions within four weeks. Critics say the court’s order meant an avoidable ‘stretching of the legal process.’
Main opposition the Congress said the Modi government should explain the rationale behind this divisive law. Party spokesperson Jaivir Shergill said, “Congress sincerely hopes that the nation aggrieved by the divisive, illegal and unconstitutional law called the CAA finally gets justice from the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India”. He said the Congress hoped that the Modi government would attempt to explain the logic, the rationale, to change the criteria of citizenship from land-based to religion-based, at least before the apex court.
Reacting sharply, noted political analyst and national president of Swaraj India, Yogendra Yadav, said just four days before the 70th anniversary of the Republic, the Supreme Court has served a grim reminder that a battle to reclaim the Republic will have to be carried forward. Yadav tweeted that the SC was a reluctant warrior in the battle to defend the soul of the Constitution.
“Routine hearing, another 4 weeks. No stay, not even postponement of CAA. This SC is at best a reluctant warrior in the battle to defend the letter, spirit & soul of the Constitution. We, the People of India, must continue the movement to save the Constitution that we gave to ourselves,” tweeted Yadav.
Nothing wrong with the order. Nothing wrong in giving time to file reply. Nothing wrong in forming a constitutional bench or taking up interim relief after 4 weeks.
But is this what you expect of a court tasked with defending the constitution in the face of this onslaught?
— Yogendra Yadav (@_YogendraYadav) January 22, 2020
The Welfare Party of India also expressed its disappointment on the SC order. It had filed a petition challenging the constitutional validity of the CAA. Party president Dr SQR Ilyas told Caravan Daily that it was very unfortunate that the SC has extended the hearing on CAA petitions for four weeks. “This is an urgent matter related to the interpretation of the Constitution. If the central government is not submitting the affidavit, that doesn’t prohibit SC in at least staying this black law (CAA).”
Dr Ilyas said the civil society all over the country and those who were protesting day and night were desperately looking for an assurance from the court but they got disappointed.
Sounding similar sentiments, noted Supreme Court lawyer Bhanu Pratap Singh said the SC should have taken up the matter on a priority and urgent basis. Singh, who heads the Rashtria Janhit Sanghrash party, told Caravan Daily that this was a very sensitive and serious issue related to fundamental rights. “The people had great expectations from the court that it would give some relief to them. However, these expectations have been belied by today’s order,” he said.
He warned that the stretching of the matter would add to the anger and unrest among the masses agitating against this law. “This casual approach of the court is unlikely to inspire confidence of the people in the judiciary,” he said.
In another tweet, Yadav said that the highest court’s “hearing-as-usual” approach on CAA meant the “people need to go back to the streets.” He tweeted that the expectation was the judiciary would defend the Constitution in the face of the CAA onslaught. “Nothing wrong with the order. Nothing wrong in giving time to file the reply. Nothing wrong in forming a Constitutional bench or taking up the plea for interim relief after four weeks. But is this what you expect of a court tasked with defending the Constitution in the face of this onslaught?”
The Social Democratic party of India (SDPI) was also a petitioner in the anti-CAA push. Party vice president and well-known lawyer, Sharfuddin Ahmed said this was not an ordinary matter as the legal battle over the CAA was about protecting the very soul of the Constitution which has been trampled upon by the present dispensation under the RSS-BJP combine. He said he hoped that the court would at least have ordered the government to suspend the operations on behalf of the act till the pronouncement of the final verdict.
In the context of the ongoing protests all over the country, which entered the second month, he said one had expected a pro-active approach from the judiciary. The SDPI has resolved to continue the struggle against this divisive and discriminatory piece of law till it is withdrawn or declared illegal and unconstitutional by the court. The SDPI shall not rest and shall continue to oppose CAA by adopting all legal and democratic means to fight it, Ahmad said.
However, prominent social activist Shabnam Hashmi, who runs NGO ANHAD, was optimistic that the SC would deliver a favourable order in the next hearing. “The court has acknowledged that there was nothing that was irreversible. The SC also observed that the case was upper-most in everybody’s mind,” she said, and expressed the hope that the SC will give an interim order on the next date of hearing.
The three-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Arvind Bobde took up the petitions challenging the validity of CAA and referred the matter to a five-judge Constitution Bench while giving four weeks’ time to the government to file its reply.