Supreme Court notice to Centre on pleas against CAA

Supreme Court notice to Centre on pleas against CAA

Supreme Court refuses to stay the law

Representative image. (PTI Photo)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to examine the validity of Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 but refused to grant any stay on the statute, which has triggered massive protests across the country.

A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant issued notice to Union government and put the matter for consideration on January 22.

The top court also asked Attorney General K K Venugopal appearing for the Union government, to give wide publicity to aims and objects of the amended Act in view of confusion among the people. "We would be happy to do it," Attorney General responded to the court's oral request.

"It is unusual request but worth considering," the bench said after the BJP leader and advocate Ashwini K Upadhyay contended that he visited Jamia Nagar and Seelampur area in Delhi and people who protested against it were not aware of its aims and objects.

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

A batch of petitions were filed challenging constitutional validity of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which made Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, except Muslims, from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan eligible for Indian citizenship.

The amended Act is being opposed by students and various political parties. People from cross sections of society including former Ministers Jairam Ramesh, MPs Mahua Moitra, Asaduddin Owaisi, Manoj Jha, and political parties like DMK, Kamal Hassan's MNM, Kerala's IUML among others have filed their petitions in the Supreme Court.

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal, A M Singhvi, Rajeev Dhavan and Prashant Bhushan and others appeared on behalf of petitioners.

As many as 60 petitions were listed for hearing before the court.

The petitioners claimed that the amended Act was violative of rights to equality, non-discrimination on the basis of religion, life and liberty, besides being contrary to international law. 

They claimed 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, making "them feel unwelcome in their own country."

They contended 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, they pleaded.

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