Jairam Ramesh moves SC challenging Citizenship Act

Jairam Ramesh moves SC challenging Citizenship Act

Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh. (PTI photo)

Former Union Minister and Congress MP Jairam Ramesh on Friday approached the Supreme Court, challenging the validity of the Citizenship Amendment Act, saying it was a brazen attack on the core fundamental rights envisaged under the Constitution, besides being violative of Assam Accord, previous apex court judgement and international law and covenants.

“There is an audacious and dishonest attempt ‘de-hyphenate’ the Citizenship Amendment and the exercise of initiating the National Register of Citizens for the entire country, i e, the Citizenship Amendment is a perfect example of the maxim, Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc- ‘After it, therefore because of it’,” the PIL, settled by senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Devadatta Kamat and filed by advocate Nishant Patil on his behalf, stated.

He maintained that the Act treated equals as unequal 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.

“The enactment ex facie violates the fundamental guarantees under Article 14 as also Article 21 of the Constitution. Further, it has been enacted disregarding the Report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee dated 07.01.2019 as also the terms of the Accord between AASU, AAGSP and the Central Government on the foreign national issue signed on 15.08.1985 (Assam Accord),” his plea stated.

Maintaining that the law provided for an unconstitutional exclusionary regime, Ramesh said classifications on basis of religion and geography were completely unreasonable and shared no rational nexus to its objects to provide shelter, safety and citizenship to communities who in their native country were facing persecution on grounds of religion.

“It not only creates a class within a class of people fleeing religious persecution but also creates a group of people who would be rendered stateless and without proper procedures put in place would be left in absence of any protection of the law, thereby frustrating the mandate of Article 21 of the Constitution,” he said.

Ramesh pointed out the Assam Accord provided constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards in order to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people. He also cited the law laid down by the Supreme Court in Sarbananda Sonowal vs Union of India (2005).

“It is neither refugee protective nor an illegal immigration antidote, as it does not provide refuge for persecuted minorities to settle in India from the rest of the world and even while addressing the remaining part, it excludes large categories based upon motivated and unconstitutional tests of classification which cannot be upheld,” his petition said.

The Act promoted rather than checked illegal migration and was inextricably intertwined with the bizarre concept of a national “National Register of Citizens”, as it does not even attempt to address the humanitarian and logistical issues of excluding millions and is clueless as to where to house them, where to deport them and how to deal with them,” he added.

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