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IUML moves Supreme Court against CAB, says it is unconstitutional

Security personnel have a look at the burnt vehicles during an indefinite curfew in Guwahati on December 12, 2019.

Security personnel have a look at the burnt vehicles during an indefinite curfew in Guwahati on December 12, 2019.   | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar

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Bill flagrantly ‘discriminates’ against religiously persecuted Muslim immigrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, petition says

The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) on Thursday moved the Supreme Court against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB), 2019, a day after it was passed by the Rajya Sabha, saying the law violated the basic and fundamental value of the Constitution that “all should be treated equally alike” and should be struck down for violation of the fundamental right to equality under Article 14.

The IUML is the first off the block even as more Opposition parties are expected to move the apex court against the Bill, which ostensibly bestows the benefit of Indian citizenship by naturalisation to illegal immigrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, except Muslims.

The petition said the Bill flagrantly “discriminates” against religiously persecuted Muslim immigrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

 

“Article 14 of the Indian Constitution envisages that ‘all should be treated equally alike’, wherein it implies that the law should give equal treatment for all ... If the object of the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 is to protect the ‘minorities who faced religious persecution in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh’, then the Ahmaddiyya and Shia sect among these countries are entitled to equal treatment for the benefit of the law. It is well-documented that the sect discrimination within religion exists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Therefore, the extension of benefit of the Act to the religious minority such as Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, but denying the same to Ahmaddiyya and Shia sect within these countries is unable to satisfy the objective sought to be achieved, which is protection of minorities facing religious persecution in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh,” the petition, filed by advocates Haris Beeran and Pallavi Pratap, said.

The petitioners clarified that they are aggrieved by grant of citizenship to one section of illegal immigrants by making an exclusion on the basis of religion. “Illegal migrants are class by itself and, therefore, any law which is applicable to them should be irrespective of any religion, caste or nationality basis,” they said.

The petitioners include prominent IUML leaders and MPs such as P.K. Kunhalikutty, E.T. Mohammed Basheer, Abdul Wahab and K. Navas Kani

 

“The Preamble of our Constitution envisages that India is a secular country and therefore every law which is passed by the Parliament has to be religion neutral. No law can be passed by the Parliament if the basis of such a law is religion. That strikes at the root of the concept of secularism which is the basic structure of the Constitution. The present Amendment Act excludes a particular community/ religion... This is not only unreasonable but against the principles enunciated under Article 14 of the Constitution,” the petition said.

The law sought to segregate persons on the basis of their religion and grant them the benefit of naturalisation. “This religious segregation, without any reasonable differentiation, not only violates Article 14, but is also blatantly opposed to the very Basic Structure of the Constitution and to the very idea of India as a country which treats people of all faiths equally. Not only does the Amendment Act outrightly discriminate on the basis of religion, it also legitimises the grant of citizenship on the basis of religion,” the plea said.

The citizenship law did not explain as to why migrants from other neighbouring countries such as Sri Lanka, Bhutan (both have Buddhism as their State religion), Nepal (State religion Hinduism) had not been included.

“Sri Lanka has had a history of persecution of Tamil minorities, a linguistic minority. Similarly, India shares approximately1,600-km-long border with Myanmar (considerably more than the border India shares with Afghanistan), which has dominated the news for primarily a genocide and persecution of Rohingya Muslims. Over the years, there have been reports of both Tamil minorities and Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution from their respective countries and seeking refuge in India. Legislative intent does not match the legislation,” the petition said.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 2:51:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/iuml-moves-supreme-court-against-cab-says-it-is-unconstitutional/article30284099.ece

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