Kerala challenges CAA in SC; calls it unconstitutional

Kerala challenges CAA in Supreme Court, says Article 256 will force it to implement 'irrational' law

Protesters hold placards and raise slogans during a protest against CAA, NRC, NPR and violence in JNU campus, in Bengaluru, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. (PTI Photo)

Kerala has approached the Supreme Court, challenging the validity of the Citizenship Amendment Act, saying that it would be compelled under Article 256 of the Constitution to ensure compliance of the law, rules, and orders which were “manifestly arbitrary, unreasonable, and irrational and violative of the fundamental rights”.

Days after passing a resolution in State Assembly, the CPM-led government filed an original suit under Article 131, invoked when there is a dispute among states and between a state and the Union of India, of the Constitution. 

It claimed the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 was also violative of the basic structure principle of secularism enshrined in the Constitution.

With this petition, Kerala has become the first state to challenge the validity of the CAA, being opposed by various political parties, activists and left-backed students organisations. The top court was already seized with more than 60 petitions.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 made only Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, except Muslims, from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan eligible for Indian citizenship as naturalisation, for their religious persecution. It had fixed December 31, 2014 as the cut-off date for such immigrants.

In its petition, the state contended that the Amendment Act was discriminatory in so far it covered "only religious persecution, among persecutions on very many grounds, of an irrationally chosen class of minorities in an unreasonably chosen class of neighbouring countries."

All persecutions are not solely based on religious grounds alone and are for varied reasons like ethnicity, linguistics etc, it claimed.

The law covered persecuted religious minorities of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh and overlooked the issues of Rohingyas in Myanmar and Muslims in Sri Lanka.

Among others, the state said the amendment in effect barred a person practicing Islam from acquiring Indian citizenship either by registration or naturalisation in violation of secularism.

It further maintained that a person seeking asylum or refuge in India, would be put to a situation wherein he will have to choose either the State or his religion. This will amount to a violation of fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 21 and 25 of the Constitution.

The Kerala Legislative Assembly had passed a resolution against the amendment on December 31, 2019.

The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 got its assent from President on December 12, after its passage from both the Houses of Parliament.

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