TS Assembly passes resolution against CAA, NPR, and NRC

Students hold placards during a protest against new Citizenship law and NRC bill. File

Students hold placards during a protest against new Citizenship law and NRC bill. File   | Photo Credit: Nagara Gopal

Calls them concerted efforts to tinker with the inclusive, and non-religious nature of citizenship

The Telangana Legislative Assembly has opposed the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Population Register (NPR), and National Register of Citizens (NRC), alleging these formed part of concerted attempts to tinker with the inclusive and non-religious nature of citizenship.

Besides violating principles of equality, non-discrimination and secularism, the concerted attempt would also endanger the lives of vulnerable groups who did not possess documentary proof of citizenship. “Moreover, there are serious questions as to the legality and constitutionality of the CAA, NPR and NRC,” a resolution passed by the Legislative Assembly on Monday said.

Also read: Media images of ‘National Population Register 2020 forms’ spark confusion

Seven States

With this, Telangana Assembly has become the seventh State Legislature to pass resolution against the CAA, NPR, and NRC after West Bengal, Kerala, Rajasthan, Punjab, Delhi and Bihar. Meanwhile, the Madhya Pradesh government too opposed the Centre’s moves and the State Cabinet had passed a resolution opposing the process.

Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who introduced the resolution in the Assembly expressed concern that the CAA introduced a “religious test” to acquire Indian citizenship for the first time in the country.

Fear of a theocratic State

The enactment of the CAA raised concerns that by introducing a religious test for citizenship, the Act insulted the memory of India’s founders who consciously chose not to incorporate a “racial principle” or “religious principle” in the provisions applicable to citizenship. The enactment of CAA had created grave apprehensions among various sections of society that it was a prelude to the NPR which would lead to a nationwide NRC.

The Act would make people belonging to certain religions eligible for Indian citizenship, while excluding other solely on the basis of religion. Citizenship on the basis of religion violates not only the principle of equality enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution, but also the principle of secularism which constituted its basic structure. “By discarding secularism and equality before law in our citizenship laws, a theocratic state may be institutionalized,” the resolution said.

Selective protection

The CAA should be understood in combination of the NPR which was being purportedly conducted under the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Card) Rules, 2003. “The Ministry of Home Affairs annual report (2018-19) stated that the NPR was the first step towards creation of the NRC,” it said. According to statements made by the Union Ministers as well as the government of Assam, the CAA was to be used in order to protect non-Muslims who might have been excluded from the NRC in Assam and in future, and the rest of the country.

“Therefore, this is nothing less than an attempt to fundamentally alter and undermine the non-religious nature of Indian citizenship,” the resolution averred. The rules were purportedly made under Section 14A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 which however did not permit or require the creation of NPR. Moreover, the rules were notified on December 10, 2003 while Section 14A came into effect only on December 3 the next year.

Concerns and confusion

“Thus there are valid concerns as to the legality and constitutionality of NPR and NRC. There is confusion even as to the mandatory nature of the NPR,” it said. In addition, the conflation of NPR and Census exercise resulted in endangering the integrity and safety of the Census exercise.

The resolution urged the Central government to amend Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 in order to remove all references to any religion or to any foreign country. Expressing concern over the proposed implementation of NPR and NRC which might result in exclusion of large number of people, the resolution urged the State Government to take all necessary steps to safeguard the people from such exercises.

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Printable version | Jul 16, 2020 8:26:46 AM |

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