The petitions include petitions filed by the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, Congress MP Jairam Ramesh and many others. Other petitioners include three retired civil servants, Lok Sabha MP Asaduddin Owaisi, Kamal hassan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam (United Against Hate), Citizens Against Hate and others.
The petitions are being heard by a three judge bench head by the CJI, Bobde and comprising of Justice BR Gavai and Justice Surya Kant. The bench has issued notices to the Centre in all the petitions and has directed the government to file response by the second week of January. The Bench, however, refused to issue a stay on the operation of the Act till the disposal of the matters and has scheduled the next hearing for January 22.
The Hearing today
The Supreme Court rightly pointed out that the Act has not being notified in a Gazette notification pertaining to its date of enforcement. The Bill has become an Act as it has received President’s assent but the notification states, “(2) It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint.” It however did not completely dismiss the plea for stay and said that it will hear plea for stay when main petitions are heard
Some lawyers even pleaded for a Constitution Bench to be formed. A constitution Bench comprises of at least 5 judges, as per Article 145(3) of the Indian Constitution, which hears cases that involve “a substantial question of law as to the interpretation” of the Constitution.
The Economic Times reported that the Bench took note of submission by a local BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay that there is confusion among citizens about Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The court then asked the Attorney General, representing Centre, to consider using audio-visual medium to make citizens aware about CAA.
What the petitions say
IUML was the first to move SC on December 12. Their petition contends that the classification made in the law on the basis of religious identity of the individual clearly violates Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution and offends the fundamental principle of ‘Secularism’, which is enshrined as basic structure of the Constitution
Activists Harsh Mander, Aruna Roy, Nihil Dey, Irfaan Habib and Prabhat Patnaik, have also moved Supreme Court against CAA. Their petition filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan says, “The direct and inevitable consequence of the impugned Act shall be that only Muslims would be targeted in the proposed pan-India NRC proceedings. The fundamental rights violation of Citizenship (Amendment), Act 2019 must be adjudged in the light of ‘direct and inevitable effect’ of the legislation on the individuals belonging to the Muslim migrants.”
The Assam based petitioners have contended that CAA violates the Assam Accord of 1985. The new law enables non-Muslims migrants who came to India before December 31, 2014 from Bangladesh to obtain citizenship while the Assam Accord treats people who came to Assam after March 24, 1971 as illegal migrants. Some petitioners from Assam include All Assam Students Union, Assam Leader of Opposition Debabrata, Assam Gana Parishad and Assam Jamait Ulema -E-Hind.
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