SC gives 2 weeks to IUML to respond to MHA affidavit on citizenship

The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) two weeks to respond to an affidavit by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) that its May 28 order, delegating power to the Collectors of 13 districts in five States to grant citizenship to non-Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, has “no relation whatsoever” with the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) of 2019.

Appearing before a Vacation Bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and V. Ramasubramanian, senior advocate Kapil Sibal and advocate Haris Beeran, for the IUML, sought time to file their rejoinder to the government's reply to their petition challenging the legality of the May order.

Also read: May 28 order has no relation whatsoever with CAA: Ministry of Home Affairs to Supreme Court

Petitions, including that filed by the PFI (Popular Front of India) and a private individual, have drawn parallels between the CAA and the May 28 notification, which facilitates non-Muslims from the three countries residing in 13 districts of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Punjab to apply for citizenship.

The IUML said the May 28 order was a deliberate ploy to implement the CAA’s “malafide designs”.

‘Delegation of power’

In its response, the MHA said the May order “merely delegates the power of [granting citizenship by registration and naturalisation] to the local authorities in particular cases”.

Also read: Union Home Ministry order inviting citizenship applications faces Supreme Court challenge

“The Central Government used its authority under Section 16 of the Citizenship Act… It is merely a process of decentralisation of decision-making aimed at speedy disposal of the citizenship applications of such foreigners… It has no relation whatsoever to the CAA,” the MHA affidavit said.

The government reasoned that the notification did not “provide for any relaxations to the foreigners and applied only to foreigners who had entered the country legally”. The applicants should possess valid documents such as passports and Indian visa. “Any foreigner of any faith can apply for citizenship of India at any time,” the MHA said.

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Printable version | Jul 31, 2021 3:16:30 PM |

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