IUML, DYFI seek stay on implementation of Citizenship (Amendment) Act, rules

The lead petitioner seeks stay of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and its rules till the Supreme Court delivers verdict on their constitutionality

Updated - March 13, 2024 02:40 am IST

Published - March 12, 2024 12:46 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The IUML, whose petition in the Supreme Court leads the 250 ones challenging the CAA, said the government had suddenly notified the rules even as the case remained pending in the top court. File

The IUML, whose petition in the Supreme Court leads the 250 ones challenging the CAA, said the government had suddenly notified the rules even as the case remained pending in the top court. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) have on March 12 moved the Supreme Court seeking a stay of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019 and its rules notified by the government on March 11.

The DYFI, represented by advocate Biju P. Raman and Subhash Chandran KR, sought an early hearing of the case in the apex court. It argued that this was first time religion has been introduced as a reference point or condition for acquisition of Indian citizenship.

The IUML, represented by advocates Haris Beeran and Pallavi Pratap,highlighted how the Centre averted a push for a stay of the implementation of the controversial CAA in the Supreme Court nearly five years ago by arguing that the rules had not been framed.

Now, after four-and-half years of ominous quiet, the IUML, whose petition leads the 250 ones challenging the CAA, said the government had suddenly notified the rules even as the case remained pending in the Supreme Court.

“The petitioner had pressed for a stay of the Act. However, the Union of India had told the Supreme Court that the rules have not been framed and therefore the implementation will not take place. The writ petitions have been pending for 4.5 years,” the IUML said.

The rules notified on March 11 would now govern the actual implementation of the CAA at the ground level.

The rules facilitate a “highly truncated and fast-tracked process for grant of citizenship to illegal migrants” belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, Christian communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan who enter into India on or before December 31, 2014.

Scrutiny of applications

The rules have done away with the independent and tiered scrutiny of applications of citizenship by District Collectors on the ground, and recommendations of State governments as to the wisdom of granting citizenship to the applicants have been done away with. The Citizenship Rules of 2009 had required the Centre to consult the State governments in the grant of citizenship process.

“The scrutiny of the application for registration or naturalisation was held at three levels — the Collector, the State government and the Central government. It is ultimately the Central government that made the decision to grant citizenship,” the application said.

The CAA Rules, 2024 granted the power of scrutiny to a ‘District Level Committee’ to verify documents and administer the oath of allegiance. An ‘Empowered Committee’ had been authorised to also scrutinise the citizenship applications, but it was not mandatory. Even the composition of the Empowered Committee was defined in the rules, the IUML said.

“There is no scope for the State government to give recommendations or for the Central government to conduct an inquiry about the suitability of the applicant,” it noted.

Besides, the government ought to have waited for a final decision from the Supreme Court.

“In case the Supreme Court finds CAA unconstitutional, then these people who would have got citizenship would be deprived of it, which would create an anomalous situation… It is best to defer the implementation of CAA and the rules,” the application said.

‘There is no urgency’

“These persons are already in India and they do not have any threat of being deported or expelled from India. There was no urgency,” the IUML said.

It said it was not against giving citizenship to migrants, but the CAA discriminated on the ground of religion in the grant of citizenship.

“This is a legislation which is based on the exclusion of religion. It strikes at the concept of secularism, which is the basic structure of Constitution… Let the implementation of the Act be made religion-neutral,” the IUML said.

The application said the court should freeze the implementation of an Act and its rules which were “manifestly arbitrary and glaringly unconstitutional” despite the presumption of constitutionality attached to a statute.

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