“It would be illogical to ask people not to be scared of the new Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), because this fear has been created by you (government),” Bombay High Court’s outgoing Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog told the Free Press journal on Saturday, commenting on the widespread protests across the country against CAA-NRC-NPR.
“It’s time to create certainty and be transparent,” he added.
Justice Nandrajog who is set to retire on February 24, after serving as a judge for nearly 18 years and served for over 10 months as the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, said that “half the damage” was done through the National Population Register (NPR), as people feared that that it was the first step to bring in a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC).
He said, “The government must be transparent on this issue and come up with its rules and what it proposes to be the standard of proof. But instead of doing all this, they (the government) have done half the damage by introducing the NPR across the country. The next step is to slip it (NRC) through.”
Speaking about the agitation against the CAA-NPR-NRC he said, “There are two ways to look at the issue. One is the logical reasoning; whether it stands the test of the Constitution as, except for Articles 21 and 14, all others are applicable only on the citizens of our country. So the ones who do not have citizenship would be immigrants, and they cannot claim discrimination. The other way to look at this aspect is through Constitutional values, which go beyond the technical language of the Constitution. Here, any discrimination on the basis of religion would be against the touchstone of our constitutional values.”
While saying that those protesting against the NRC should have waited for the government to publish rules regarding it, he also said that their fear was justified due to what happened after the NRC exercise in Assam. He also said that what added to the citizens’ fears was that the declaration of the courts which said that the Aadhaar card, PAN card, Voter ID etc are not proof of citizenship.”