SC to Hear Petitions Challenging Citizenship Amendment Act on December 6

Date:

The bench also deployed two nodal counsels who will be compiling all the relevant documents related to the cases.

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI — The batch of petitions challenging the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019 will be heard by the Supreme Court from December 6 onwards, said the apex court bench hearing the case on Monday.

While hearing the petitions a bench led by Chief Justice of India Uday Umesh Lalit, comprising Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Bela M Trivedi said that they are going to hear the petitions from December 6.

The bench said: “List the matters before the appropriate bench on December 6, 2022.”

CAA was passed by Parliament on December 11, 2019 and it was met with protests all across the country. The CAA came into effect on January 10, 2020.

The petitions contended that the Act, which liberalises and fast-tracks the grant of citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, promotes religion-based discrimination.

The amendments have also been challenged on several other grounds, including violation of secularism, Articles 21 (right to life), 15 (prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth) and 19 (right to freedom), as well as provisions on citizenship and constitutional morality.

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”.

The bench granted time to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to file response on behalf of Tripura and Assam in the matter.

The bench also deployed two nodal counsels who will be compiling all the relevant documents related to the cases.

It has named advocate Pallavi Pratap, the counsel for Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and Kanu Agarwal (Central Government Counsel) as the nodal officers for the compilation to facilitate smooth hearing in the matters arising out of more than 230 petitions.

A battery of senior advocates A.M. Singhvi, Sidharth Luthra, Kapil Sibal, P. Wilson and Indira Jaising and others appeared on behalf of the petitioners. The top court said all counsel should share written submissions not exceeding three pages.

“Nodal counsel can designate one or two other matters as lead matters,” it added.

The court was hearing 232 petitions filed by different organisations including Assam Students Union (AASU) challenging the constitutional validity of CAA. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, RJD leader Manoj Jha, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra and AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi have also filed petitions on this issue.

In its written response, the Centre has defended the validity of the 2019 Act, saying “CAA is a benign piece of legislation which seeks to provide a relaxation, in the nature of an amnesty, to specific communities from the specified countries with a clear cut-off date”.

In context of pleas claiming the Act violates the Assam Accord, the affidavit said: “It is, therefore, respectfully submitted that specific concerns with regard to Assam and the other northeastern States have been taken into consideration by the legislature while enacting the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 and the provisions in the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 do not in any way violate the provisions of the Assam Accord or section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955.”

It further added that the law applied to those who have been exempted by the central government under the provisions of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and other relevant provisions and the rules made under the Foreigners Act, 1946.

The affidavit said that this is a focused law that has a specific cut-off date of December 31, 2014. “Therefore, only such migrants belonging to the six specified communities from the three countries who had entered into India on or before December 31, 2014 will be covered by the provisions of this Amendment Act,” it added.

It further added that migrants already living in India and the amended law does not have any provision which provides for the grant of citizenship to such migrants who would have come after the specified date or on any future date.

The affidavit said CAA does not in any way encourage illegal migration into Assam and therefore the pleas claiming that it has the potential to encourage illegal migration into Assam is unfounded.

The apex court had issued notice to the Centre and had sought its response in January 2020. — (With inputs from IANS)

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