The state governments have no power to refuse the implementation of a union law which is in the central list, sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said on Friday, after several states refused to implement the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019. The Act has been listed under the 7th schedule of the Constitution and therefore such amendment is applicable to all states, added the sources. The states which have refused to implement the Act include West Bengal, Punjab, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh.
The Act aims to give Indian citizenship to refugees from Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Zorastrian communities fleeing religious persecution from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. It was passed in the Rajya Sabha on December 11 with 125 votes in favour and 99 against it. Earlier the Bill was passed in Lok Sabha with a thumping majority on December 9.
Speaking on the implementation of the Act, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath said, "Any law that divides the society cannot be accepted. Ours stand on the Act will be the same as that of our party (Congress)." Reacting on the implementation of the Act, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said, "We cannot have a stand above the stand taken by the All India Congress Committee. The stand which belongs to the All India Congress Committee will be our stand as well. We will meet tomorrow (Saturday) and discuss with all the leaders."
Maharashtra Home Minister Eknath Shinde said, "No pressure on Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray for not implementing the Act. He will discuss with the leaders of the three parties and take a decision in this regard. There is no pressure on the CM as he is able to make his own decisions."
Earlier, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said the Act could not be imposed on the people under her rule in the state. "Don`t be scared we are with you. As long as we are here nobody can impose anything on you," Banerjee had told a gathering in Kharagpur.
Addressing a press conference, Kerala Chief Minister Pinrayi Vijayan had said that the Act is against the Constitution and has been passed from Parliament to sabotage equality and secularism. "The Central government is trying to divide India into religious lines in accordance with the ideology of (Vinayak Damodar) Savarkar and (former RSS chief MS) Golwalkar. It is against the Constitution. This is part of the move to sabotage equality and secularism," he had told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram.
On Thursday, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had said that the Act is against secular values enshrined in the Constitution and asserted that his government would not allow the legislation to be implemented in his state. "My government would not let the legislation rip apart the secular fabric of the country, whose strength lies in its diversity," the Punjab Chief Minister had said.
The Union List is given in the Seventh Schedule in the Constitution of India on which Parliament has exclusive power to legislate. The legislative section is divided into three lists: Union List, State List, and Concurrent List. Unlike the federal governments of the US, Switzerland, and Australia, residual powers remain with the Union Government, as with the Canadian federal government.
The Act has triggered violent protests in Assam even as tension gripped Tripura and Meghalaya despite assurances by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah that the Bill will not harm the interests of the people of the northeast.