Friday, May 24, 2024

Plea challenging CAA rules: SC seeks reply from Union and Assam State governments

The Supreme Court on April 19 sought a reply from the Union government and the Assam State government on a petition challenging the Citizenship (Amendment) Rules, 2024, which aims to grant citizenship to ‘non-Muslim’ migrants who came from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan before December 31, 2014.

A Bench of Chief Justice D. Y. Chandrachud and Justice J.B. Pardiwala were hearing a plea filed by Hiren Gohain, a Guwahati resident.

The court issued notices to the State government and the Union ministries of Home Affairs and External Affairs.

In the judgement, the apex court has also announced the merging of all the pending petitions on the issue.

Recently, the Bench, while refusing to stay the operation of the CAA Rules, asked the Union government to respond to the applications seeking a stay on the implementation till the court completes the hearing of the pleas challenging the validity of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.

CAA Rules are ultra-vires to the Constitution as they are palpably discriminatory, manifestly arbitrary, illegal and against the basic structure of the Constitution, Mr. Gohain claimed in his petition.

“It is stated that the impugned Citizenship (Amendment) Rules, 2024 violates the petitioners’ fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14 (right to equality), 15 (right against discrimination on the basis of religion, race, caste etc), 19 (freedom of speech and expression), 21 (right to life and personal liberty) etc of the Constitution,” the petition added.

Further, Mr. Gohain raised the issue of illegal migrants on behalf of the indigenous people of Assam and opposed the communal overtone of CAA in the plea.

“Neither it is a Hindu-Muslim or indigenous people v/s Bengali immigrant’s issue. Rather it is an issue of foreign infiltrators, be it Hindus or Muslims, who are inundating the land that for centuries has belonged to the indigenous people of Assam. In other words, it is an issue between Indians and non-Indians/ foreigners and one of grave importance for the entire nation,” he said.

“It is stated that according to the 2011 census, the population of Assam was about 3.21 crores out of which only 1.34 crore people are indigenous Assamese. This figure includes the Assamese Muslims and indigenous people of the different tribes like Bodo, Missing, Rabha, Karbi etc.

Additionally, there are about 48 lakh people that comprise the tea tribes, it said.

“The sum total of the aforesaid two figures comes to about 1.82 crores. A major part of the remaining population of Assam essentially comprises Bengali speaking Hindus and Muslims and a minor part comprises Hindi/other language speaking people who have migrated from the other states of India,” the petition said.

Days ahead of the announcement of general elections, the BJP government initiated the implementation process of CAA by publishing the rules in haste.

The controversial law, which has been called out for its discriminatory and anti-Muslim provisions sparked protests across the country in late 2019 and early 2020.

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