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SC rebuffs plea to implement CAA

Court must independently review the law for elements of unconstitutionality: CJI

Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad A. Bobde said the country was already going through difficult times and an endeavour should be made to maintain peace.

The CJI made the oral comments while hearing a petition seeking an “aggressive” implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), which fast-tracks benefits of citizenship to illegal immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan belonging to six minority religions but denies the same treatment to Muslims.

“Country is going through difficult times. There has been some violence . Endeavour now should be for peace. Such petitions don’t help,” Chief Justice Bobde told the lawyer for Mumbai-based Puneet Kaur Dhanda.

Ms. Dhanda’s petition wanted the court to declare the Act “constitutional”.

The CJI scoffed at the prayer, explaining to the lawyer that any law passed by the legislature was anyway attached with “a presumption of constitutionality”.

It was now for the Supreme Court to independently review the law for elements of unconstitutionality in it.

“How can we just declare it [CAA] constitutional? There is anyway a presumption of constitutionality. You have been a student of law, you would know...” Chief Justice Bobde said.

Over 60 petitions listed

The court, he said, had listed over 60 petitions challenging the legality of the Act for hearing on January 22.

They argued that the Act shredded the nation’s basic and fundamental value of secularism by discriminating in the grant of citizenship on the basis of religion.

The CJI remained non-committal when the lawyer sought an urgent hearing of his petition favouring the CAA.

Ms. Dhanda asked the court to direct the Election Commission to take “strict action” against political parties “spreading false rumours and violence in the country”. The petition also sought legal action against those protesting against the CAA.

Protesters have said the Act is discriminatory in granting citizenship on the basis of religion and had ripped apart the fabric of secularism.

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