SC may take up PILs against Citizenship Act on Dec 18

SC may take up PILs against Citizenship Act on Dec 18

The Supreme Court is likely to take up next week a batch of petitions challenging constitutional validity of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which made only Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, except Muslims, from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan eligible for Indian citizenship.

Prominent among those who approached the top court against the law on Saturday included AIMIM chief and MP Asaduddin Owaisi, Barpeta Lok Sabha MP Abdul Khaleque, Leader of Opposition of Assam Legislative Assembly, Debabrata Saikia and Rupjyoti Kurmi, MLA from Mariani Legislative Assembly, Assam.

T N Prathapan, Member of Parliament from Thrissur constituency, also filed his petition against the 2019 Amendment Act.

Pradyot Deb Burman, member of Manikya dynasty of Tripura, also separately approached the Supreme Court questioning validity of the Citizenship Amendment Act.

As many as 12 petitions including ones by MPs from the Congress and the TMC, Jairam Ramesh and Mahua Moitra, respectively, were filed on Friday.

According to the Supreme Court's website, the petitions filed by Kerala's political party IUML and its MPs and TMC MP Moitra could tentatively come up for consideration before a bench on December 18, the last date of working before the winter break.

Among the grounds of challenge raised by Owaisi in his petition settled by advocate M Nizam Pashar are that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, changed the character of Indian citizenship by removing its basis from secular to overtly favouring specific religious groups and thus created a sense of alienation among the Muslim community and made “them feel unwelcome in their own country”.

He contended that the Amendment Act has brought disrepute to India and besmirched its reputation in the international community.

Allowing citizenship on the sole basis of belonging to a particular religion, and presumably upon making a binding statement might lead one to change the faith after obtaining citizenship.

The Hyderabad MP also stated that the Amendment Act clearly “appears to have an unholy nexus with the National Register of Citizens exercise, aimed at identifying 'illegal migrants' residing in India”.

Congress MP Ramesh, in his plea, contended that the Act treated equals as unequals since all persons facing religious persecution in their native country were not being treated alike as only Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan were being made eligible for Indian citizenship.

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