Sabarimala first, CAA later, says CJI

S. A. Bobde

S. A. Bobde  

140 petitions against CAA filed in SC

Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde on Thursday clarified that the challenge raised against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act would have to wait till a nine-judge Bench of the court wrapped up hearing a reference made in connection with the Sabarimala case on the ambit and scope of religious freedom of multiple faiths across the country. The nine-judge Bench is expected to start hearing the Sabarimala reference on March 16.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal made an urgent oral mention before Chief Justice Bobde to list the CAA case before they become infructuous, especially with the National Population Register (NPR) exercise commencing in April.

Lawyers for the petitioners have argued that NPR data would be used to prepare a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC). The NPR-NRC is considered a harbinger-cum-facilitator for the operation of the CAA. Over 140 petitions have been filed against the CAA in the Supreme Court.

In January, the court responded to the apprehensions about the NPR-NRC-CAA link, with an assurance that the CAA was “uppermost in everybody's minds”. The court then refused to stay the Act without hearing the government first. On Thursday, over a month later, the government is yet to file its response to the CAA challenge in the Supreme Court. Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal said the government would be filing its reply in a few days.

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