The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday issued a notice to the Centre on a batch of 59 PILs challenging the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019 but refuses to stay the implementation of the Act. The apex court has directed the Centre to submit its reply by the second week of January 2020. A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice (CJI) SA Bobde and Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant heard the pleas and ordered that the next hearing will be on January 22, 2020. Pleading on behalf of the government Attorney General Venugopal said, "There are four judgments of the SC that the Act cannot be stayed."
Some of those who filed the petitions are Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi, Trinamool Congress MP (TMC) Mahua Moitra, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, Tripura's erstwhile ruling family scion Pradyot Kishore Deb Barman, Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), All Assam Students Union (AASU) and others.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) was passed by both the Houses of the Parliament and it became an Act after President Ram Nath Kovind's nod. Ever since the passage of CAB in the Parliament, the country has witnessed several violent protests in most of the states, particularly in Assam, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.
The CAA grants Indian citizenship to refugees from Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Parsi communities fleeing religious persecution from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who entered India on or before December 31, 2014.
Jairam Ramesh moved the Supreme Court last Friday challenging validity of the CAA. He alleged that it is a brazen attack on the core fundamental rights envisaged under the Constitution.
He claimed the Act promotes rather than checks illegal migration and is inextricably intertwined with the "bizarre concept" of a National Register of Citizens (NRC), "as it does not even attempt to address the humanitarian and logistical issues of excluding millions and is clueless as to where to house them, where to deport them and how to deal with them." He contended the Act is manifestly violative of Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution, is contrary to the law laid down by the apex court, and also violates the Assam Accord and International Covenants.
In its plea, the AASU stated that due to the continued influx of illegal immigrants in Assam, the Centre has failed to protect the rights of the state's indigenous people. It claimed the Act violates the obligations of the Centre under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Other petitioners, which include Peace Party, NGOs Rihai Manch and Citizens Against Hate, advocate ML Sharma and law students, have a common issue with the amended Act.