India's Citizenship Act gets challenged at the Supreme Court barely a day after passing Parliament
- India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act is being challenged by the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) less than a day after being passed by the Rajya Sabha.
- IUML claims that the act is unconstitutional and violates the fundamental right to equality.
- It has asked for stay order on the Act until the matter is resolved.
Protests have been ravaging India’s north-east since the cabinet’s decision to introduce the bill in Lok Sabha. The violence only escalated after CAB moved to the Rajya Sabha for approval. Protestors burnt tires on the roads and threw bricks at the police, forcibly shutting down shops and markets. When the Border Security Force (BSF) tried to stop them, they damaged the fire brigade vehicle.
CAB is now ready to become law — an official act instead of a bill — after the Rajya Sabha passed the bill following a gruelling six-and-half-hour debate.
Guwahati continues to be at the epicentre of anti-CAB protests — railways services have been halted, a curfew has been imposed and mobile serves in ten districts have been suspended. To control the deteriorating law and order situation in Assam and Tripura, eight columns of the Indian Army have been deployed along with 12 companies from the Railway Protection Special Force (RPSF).
Why is the Citizenship (Amendment) Act being challenged?
CAB takes the original Citizenship Act of 1955 and adds a religious element to it, according to PRS, an independent research institute. It restricts the eligibility of citizenship for illegal immigrants to certain religions — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians — leaving Muslims, Jews and atheists out of the fold. Some have even labelled it India’s new ‘ anti-Muslim’ law.
IUML claims that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) is in violation of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the constitution — the right to equality, the right to non-discrimination, and the right to life. Its writ petition to the Supreme Court is asking for a stay order on the amendment until the matter’s been fully explored.
The US Commission of International Religous Freedom (USCIRF) also echoed similar concerns on Monday. “The CAB is a dangerous turn in the wrong direction; it runs counter to India’s rich history of secular pluralism and the Indian Constitution, which guarantees equality before the law regardless of faith,” it said.
CAA is also in violation of the Assam Accord of 1985, which led to the deportation of illegal immigrants from the state regardless of of their religion.
The bill justifies its stance stating that only religions who are a minority in Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh were included as eligible for citizenship. This is despite the fact, as many debaters have pointed out, that Muslims are a minority in both Sri Lanka and Nepal.
“India is a democracy, though people have the right to voice their ideas and demands, such actions are not appreciated in society,” said Assam Chief Secretary Alok Kumar.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, will be arguing on IUML’s behalf in the Supreme Court.
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