Opposition vows to challenge Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Supreme Court

Congress member Kapil Sibal speaks while participating in the debate on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 in the Rajya Sabha on December 11, 2019. Photo: RSTV/PTI  

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is unconstitutional and divisive and will be challenged legally, Opposition MPs said in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

Terming the Bill “divisive”, Congress MP Kapil Sibal said: “It will destabilise our polity and 18 to 20 million people will not trust us. It weakens the foundation of our culture, beliefs and ethos...This is legally untenable and morally reprehensible. Those who have no idea of India cannot protect the idea of India. Don’t convert this Indian Republic into a Jurassic republic, where there are two dinosaurs.”

‘Forced to lie’

He said the Bill would force migrants from these countries to lie that they had been persecuted on religious grounds as at the time of entry into India they had claimed to be originally from India. He said “no one was afraid”, in response to the Home Minister saying that Muslims should not fear.

Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad asked Home Minister Amit Shah the reason for the “selective” inclusion of religious groups and countries. He asked why the northeastern States were “burning” if the whole country was happy with the Bill.

Congress MP P. Chidambaram termed the Bill unconstitutional, and said that it would eventually go to the judiciary. “Parliamentarians are being asked to do something unconstitutional and then the baby is passed on to the judiciary and, in the judiciary, lawyers and Judges will decide what you have done is constitutional or not.Knowing this is unconstitutional, I am afraid, this government is ramming through this Bill in order to advance its Hindutva agenda,” he said.

The Shiv Sena, which voted in favour of the Bill in the Lok Sabha, opposed the Bill in the Rajya Sabha, with Sanjay Raut, MP, saying the party did not need a “certificate of patriotism” from the ruling party.

Referring to a criticism of the opponents of the Bill that they were “speaking the language of Pakistan”, Mr. Raut said “this is not the Assembly of Pakistan”.

Trinamool MP Derek O’Brien termed the Bill unconstitutional, likening it to Nazi policy. “There is a view that the Bill from here will go 3.7 km down to another domed building — the Supreme Court. But, in between, we have a different view. In between, there will be people’s movement,” he said.

He said the National Register of Citizens had not worked in Assam and would not in the rest of the country.

Samajwadi Party MP Javed Ali Khan said the Bill was fulfilling the two-nation theory of Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

BSP MP Satish Chandra Mishra questioned the cut-off date for entry into India for the migrants included in the Bill, which he said violated Article 14 of the Constitution.

Sanjay Singh of the Aam Aadmi Party asked how many times the government had raised the issue of persecution of Hindus in Bangladesh with the government of that country.

‘Sword of Damocles’

Binoy Viswam of the Communist Party of India said a “sword of Damocles was hanging over the head of secular India”.

Praful Patel of the NCP asked the Bill to be sent to a select committee.

Tiruchi Siva of the DMK said he opposed the Bill and that it was his duty to protect the Constitution, “my Constitution”, which was “different” from the Constitution as understood by the government.

T.K. Rangarajan of the CPI(M) said the Bil was unconstitutional and that it had left out the persecuted Hindu Tamils from Sri Lanka who were living in camps in Tamil Nadu.

Ripun Bora of the Congress said “Assam is burning”, referring to the anti-CAB protests in the state. He said he the government had replied to questions by him in the Rajya Sabha in 2017 and 2016 that there were “no authoritative statistics” about persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh and the number of illegal Hindu migrants from Bangladesh, but the Home Minister had claimed that “crores” of people had come to India due to persecution.

TRS MP K. Keshava Rao said the Bill was “challenging the very idea of India”. Manoj Kumar Jha of the RJD termed it “morally and Constitutionally bad”. Vaiko of the MDMK said the Bill was “obnoxious”. D. Kupendra Reddy of the JDS said the Bill was in violation of Article 14.

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 1:05:01 PM |

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