- The Supreme Court agreed to
hear on January 10th 2020, 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.
- Concern raised was: a
probability that various High Courts might deliver mutually conflicting
views on the legality of the CAA, leading to confusion.
the petitions about?
- 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
- 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
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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