Other States

Amarinder says Kerala House resolution represents will and wisdom of people

Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh

Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh   | Photo Credit: Akhilesh Kumar

In an open letter to Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Chief Minister asserts that States had taken the necessary legal advice

Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh has come out in support of the resolution passed by the Kerala Legislative Assembly seeking amendment to the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), terming it the voice of the people, and urging the Centre to heed the same.

In an open letter to Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Chief Minister countered the former’s recent remarks in which he had “discounted the position being taken by some of the States against the CAA” and “called upon such politicians to seek appropriate legal advice before taking such a stand.”

Capt. Amarinder asserted that the said States had taken the necessary legal advice. The Kerala Assembly resolution represented the will and wisdom of the people, as spoken through their elected representatives. “Such MLAs represent the voice of the people at large,” he said. It was not only a matter of parliamentary privilege but also the constitutional duty of those representatives to make known such views.

‘Neither naive nor misguided’

As heads of responsible State governments “we are neither naive nor misguided”, he said. Laws could not be forcibly imposed on citizens, and like all powers, even the parliamentary power was coupled with the duty to exercise it responsibly.

By insisting that only Parliament, under Article 245, had the legislative power to pass laws as regards citizenship, and not the State governments, the Union Law Minister had entirely missed the point of the Kerala resolution. “It has not passed any citizenship law. It urges the Government of India [through Parliament where it now has a majority] to amend the CAA,” he said.

“Surely, you, both as Minister of Law as well as a lawyer, know that the resolution is rightly directed, as it is Parliament which must amend-repeal such law based on a proposal-Bill mooted by the Union government,” he said.

Capt. Amarinder dubbed the Union Minister’s continuous disclaimer that the CAA does not in any manner affect Indian Muslims as “a public-political stand which you are forced to take out of compulsion of office.”

He said, “Surely [and again as a lawyer yourself], you would be alive to the raging debate that the CAA fails the test of Article 14 of the Constitution of India, which guarantees to all persons equality before law and equal protection of laws, irrespective of their religion.”

The Chief Minister cited the sensitive border location of Punjab and expressed another serious concern over the CAA. He noted that the Act’s language “does even require that any illegal migrant seeking its benefit need be of Indian origin in any manner.” All they have to be was from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, he pointed out. This could be a citizen or even a resident, or even a temporary person in transit through these countries.

“Since the CAA has no requirement of being of Indian origin or having to prove any such origins, this means that any person claiming to be of the six religions could simply apply in terms of the amended law, prove entry on or before the cut-off date and be eligible for citizenship. This could in fact be misused for infiltration into our country, particularly in the border States, converting this misguided legislation into a national security threat,” the letter said.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 1:02:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/amarinder-says-kerala-house-resolution-represents-will-and-wisdom-of-people/article30469100.ece

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