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UN rights body to move SC on CAA

MEA says world body has no rightto file petition on India’s internal matter

In an unprecedented and rare move, the Geneva-based Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has announced that it plans to file an application in the Supreme Court, asking to be impleaded in petitions challenging the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

Responding to the announcement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the United Nations body had no right to file a petition that will ask the court to appoint the Commissioner for Human Rights as an assistant or amicus curiae in the case.

The OHCHR plan has been criticised by diplomatic and legal experts here, including one of the 22 petitioners in the case, as an “overreach”.

“The High Commissioner [Michelle Bachelet] intends to submit an amicus curiae brief shortly on the Citizenship [Amendment] Act [CAA] in the Indian Supreme Court, in accordance with the Court’s established procedures, and she has informed the Indian Permanent Mission in Geneva of her intention,” Rupert Colville, OHCHR spokesperson based in Geneva, confirmed to The Hindu .

“The amicus curiae will focus on providing an overview of relevant and applicable international human rights standards and norms to support the Court’s deliberations in the context of its review of the CAA,” the spokesperson said.

Last week, Ms. Bachelet informed the Human Rights Council that the UN body had “great concerns over the CAA”. She had also met with MEA Secretary (West) Vikas Swarup, who had travelled to Geneva to represent India at the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council last Thursday. On Monday, the Indian Mission in Geneva was formally informed of the OHCHR’s plans to file the petition.

MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said on Tuesday, “The Citizenship (Amendment) Act is an internal matter of India and concerns the sovereign right of the Indian Parliament to make laws. We strongly believe that no foreign party has any locus standi on issues pertaining to India’s sovereignty.”

“We are confident that our sound and legally sustainable position would be vindicated by the Honourable Supreme Court,” he added.

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