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SC to hear on Friday govt. plea to transfer petitions against CAA in High Courts

The petitioners in the Supreme Court cut across political party lines and come from all walks of life from across the country. | File

The petitioners in the Supreme Court cut across political party lines and come from all walks of life from across the country. | File   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

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Solicitor General Tushar Mehta says situation raises probability that various HCs might deliver mutually conflicting views on legality of CAA, leading to confusion

The Supreme Court agreed to hear on Friday (January 10) a plea made by the government to transfer pending writ petitions challenging the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) of 2019 in various High Courts across the country to the apex court.

Making an urgent mention before a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the situation eventually raised a probability that various High Courts might deliver mutually conflicting views on the legality of the CAA, leading to confusion.

Mr. Mehta said the Supreme Court should make an authoritative pronouncement on the law.

Though initially Chief Justice Bobde orally remarked that it would be advantageous to have the High Courts’ conclusions, the Bench also said that it felt the High Courts should not be entertaining the cases on the CAA when the Supreme Court was already seized of it. There were over 60 writ petitions in the Supreme Court on the CAA.

The petitioners in the Supreme Court cut across political party lines and come from all walks of life from across the country. They include parliamentarians such as Jairam Ramesh, Mahua Moitra and Asaduddin Owaisi and parties such as Assam Gana Parishad, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam and Kerala’s Indian Union Muslim League and an association of lawyers from Assam.

A three-judge Bench led by the CJI has scheduled a hearing on January 22.

‘CAA has unholy nexus with NRC’

The petitions in the Supreme Court argue that the law welcomes “illegal migrants” into India selectively on the basis of their religion and pointedly exclude Muslims. It has an “unholy nexus” with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise and is against the principles of secularism, right to equality and dignity of life enshrined in the basic structure of the Constitution.

 

While the NRC exercise will result in identification of persons as “illegal migrants”, the CAA seeks to simultaneously offer citizenship to illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis or Christians on the presumed ground of persecution, they contend.

The new citizenship law fast tracks citizenship by naturalisation for minority Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who enter India illegally, claiming religious persecution in their native countries.

But the new law does not impose any requirement on illegal migrants from the six religions to prove their claim of religious persecution or even a reasonable fear of it.

The petitions argue that the legislation effectuates discrimination on the basis of the intrinsic and core identity of an individual, that is, his religious identity as a Muslim.

The Act ensures that only an illegal immigrant who is Muslim would be singled out and prosecuted under the Passports (Entry into India) Act, 1920 or the Foreigners Order 1949 and deprived of his personal liberty. On the other hand, illegal migrants from the six protected religions would be entitled with Indian citizenship and the benefits that come with it.

While Muslim migrants would have to show their proof of residency in India for at least 11 years, the law allows illegal migrants from the six communities to be naturalised in five years’ time.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 10:36:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sc-to-hear-on-friday-govt-plea-to-transfer-petitions-against-caa-in-high-courts/article30510956.ece

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