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SC refuses to order stay on Citizenship Amendment Act; Know all about it!

The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Centre, asking for its response on the petitions against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

Dec 19, 2019 09:50 IST
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The Supreme Court of India decided to examine the constitutional validity of the citizenship amendment act (CAA) on December 18, 2019 but refused to order a stay on its operation.

The apex court issued a notice to the centre on the petitions filed against the citizenship amendment act and sought its response on the matter by the second week of January 2020. The next hearing on CAA is likely to take place on January 22.

The amended citizenship act aims to grant Indian citizenship to the non-Muslim minorities who faced religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The law will enable all Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi and Christian minority communities who fled to India fearing religious persecution from the three countries on or before December 31, 2014 to become legal Indian citizens.

Also read: What is the difference between CAB and NRC?

SC’s ruling on CAA: Key Highlights

While taking up the petitions, the Supreme Court refused to order a stay on the law and issued a notice to centre to submit its response on the pleas filed against the amendment citizenship act by the second week of January.

The apex court bench was headed by CJI S A Bobde and comprised Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant. The bench fixed all 59 petitions for hearing on January 22, 2020.

The petitions against the citizenship amendment act also include those filed by the Indian Union Muslim League and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh.

The apex court bench agreed to the submission of the lawyers appearing for the petitioners that the common people should be made aware with the contents of the CAA and its objective and aim.

The court asked Attorney General K K Venugopal, who was representing the centre to consider using the audio-visual medium to make citizens aware of the law. The Attorney General agreed to the suggestion and said that the government would be doing the needful.

The court, however, refused to order a stay on the act as sought by the petitioners and said that the arguments on granting a stay on the act can be taken up during the next hearing in January.

The petitioners

The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) filed a petition before the Supreme Court challenging the citizenship amendment act, stating that it violates the fundamental right to equality and aims to grant citizenship to only a section of illegal immigrants through religion-based exclusion.

The petition sought an interim stay on the operation of the CAB bill along with the Foreigner Amendment (Order), 2015 and Passport (Entry Into Rules), Amendment Rules, 2015. It also alleged that the law violated the basic structure of the Constitution by explicitly discriminating against Muslims, as the act extended benefits only to non-Muslim religious minorities.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh also filed a petition stating that the Act is a "brazen attack" on the core fundamental rights envisaged under the Indian Constitution and treats "equals as unequal". The petition claimed that the amendment to the citizenship act is unconstitutional, as it classified on the basis of religion and geography, both of which are completely unreasonable.

Several other petitions were also filed against the amendment act including by TMC MP Mahua Moitra, AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi and RJD leader Manoj Jha.

The Muslim body Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind also filed a petition against the act along with the CPI, All Assam Students Union and the peace party and several non-governmental organizations.

Background

The Indian Parliament passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on December 11, 2019 and the bill received Presidential assent on December 12, 2019.

The law’s passing has resulted in violent protests across the country including the national capital, Assam, Tripura and West Bengal. Several petitions were filed against the act in the Supreme Court.

Also read: Jamia Violence: Delhi HC to take up plea against police crackdown on Jamia students

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