National

Chief Justice Sharad Bobde scoffs at plea to declare CAA ‘constitutional’

A view of the Supreme Court of India.

A view of the Supreme Court of India.  

more-in

He explains to lawyer that any law passed by the legislature is anyway attached with “a presumption of constitutionality”.

Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad A. Bobde said the country was already going through difficult times and an endeavour should be made to maintain peace.

The CJI made the oral comments while hearing a petition seeking an “aggressive” implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), which fast-tracks benefits of citizenship to illegal immigrants who belong to six minority religions in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan but excludes the same treatment to Muslims.

“Country is going through difficult times. Endeavour should be for peace. Such petitions don’t help,” Chief Justice Bobde told the lawyer for Mumbai-based Puneet Kaur Dhanda. 

Ms. Dhanda’s petition wanted the court to declare the Act “constitutional”.

But the CJI scoffed at the prayer, explaining to the lawyer that any law passed by the legislature was anyway attached with “a presumption of constitutionality”. It was now for the Supreme Court to independently review the law for elements of unconstitutionality in it.

“How can we just declare it [CAA] constitutional? There is anyway a presumption of constitutionality. You have been a student of law, you would know...” Chief Justice Bobde said.

The court, he said, had listed over 60 petitions challenging the legality of the Act for hearing on January 22. They argued that the Act shredded the nation’s basic and fundamental value of secularism by discriminating in the grant of citizenship on the basis of religion.

The CJI remained non-committal when the lawyer sought for an urgent hearing of his petition favouring the CAA.

Plea for direction to ECI

Ms. Dhanda asked the court to direct the Election Commission of India to take “strict action” against the political parties “spreading false rumours and violence in the country”. The petition also sought legal action against those protesting against the CAA. 

The protesters said the Act was a sure step towards the National Register of Citizens. It discriminated in the grant of citizenship on the basis of religion and ripped apart the fabric of secularism.

Ms. Dhanda said an “anti-India stand has become fashion of many students belonging to these institutions [Jamia Millia Islamia and Jawaharlal Nehru University] which, otherwise, were famous for the achievements of their legendary students”.

She sought strict action by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting against newspapers and media houses that were “spreading false information and rumours”. She asked the Supreme Court instead to clarify and declare that the CAA was “not against the spirit of Constitution of India and in no sense against any citizen of India”.

The petition said, “Political parties against the Central government have spread false rumours across the country regarding the Muslim brothers and sisters of our country that they will be thrown out from the country hereby creating an environment of fear and restlessness as a result of which violence has spread across the country... This has caused a huge economic loss and also brought a bad name to our country.” 

The plea may be listed on January 22 along with the 60 anti-CAA petitions filed by parliamentarians, civil rights groups, NGOs, political parties, activists and citizens from all walks of life across the country.

Watch | All about the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019
 

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Related Topics National
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 10:12:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/chief-justice-sharad-bobde-scoffs-at-plea-to-declare-caa-constitutional/article30521922.ece

Next Story