Supreme Court Seeks Govt Response on Citizenship Amendment Act

Mainstream
20-Mar-2024
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The Supreme Court has called for the Central government's response to a plea seeking a stay on the recently notified Citizenship (Amendment) Rules of 2024, which effectively operationalizes the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019 (CAA). In a bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud, alongside Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, notice was issued to the Centre regarding the stay plea, with a directive to submit a reply by April 2.

"Let submissions be made on the stay application limited to five pages till April 2. Let respondents file a 5-page reply to the application by April 8," the Court stated, scheduling the next hearing for April 9. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta initially requested four weeks for the government's response, which was opposed by Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the petitioners.

"Four weeks for (reply to) an application of stay is far too much... These rules have been notified after four years. Since 2020 they have been going to parliament every three months and are now notified. If citizenship is granted now then there are chances that it cannot be reversed. Under international law once citizenship is granted you cannot take it back," Sibal contended.

The Court granted the government two weeks to file its response, amid a batch of around 236 petitions challenging the CAA and the newly introduced Rules. The CAA, passed in December 2019, aims to grant citizenship to minority communities from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, except Muslims, who entered India before December 31, 2014.

The petitioners argue that the law discriminates on religious grounds, contravening Article 14 of the Constitution. While the Court had issued a notice on the challenge to the CAA in 2019, it refrained from staying the law, pending the notification of Rules. However, the sudden promulgation of the Rules last week prompted a flurry of stay applications before the Court.

The outcome of the Court's deliberation will have significant ramifications for the contentious CAA and its accompanying Rules, with implications for India's citizenship landscape. The petitioners challenging the law submitted that the CAA discriminates against Muslims based on religion. Such religious segregation is without any reasonable differentiation and violates the right to quality under Article 14, it was contended.

On December 18, 2019, the apex court issued a notice to the Union of India on that challenge. But the Court had not stayed the law since the Rules were not notified which meant that the Act remained in limbo. However, in a sudden move, the Central government notified the rules last week, on March 11, which effectively brought into force the CAA.

This led to a slew of applications before the Court seeking a stay on the Act and Rules, including those by the IUML, Assam Congress leader Debabrata Saikia, Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (a regional student outfit), Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) and the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI).

Author: Anushka Taraniya

News Writer, MIT ADT University