SC doesn't stay CAA, gives Centre four weeks to reply
Today, the Supreme Court heard a whopping 144 petitions challenging the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and refused to put a stay on the controversial law. A bench, headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde, and comprising Justices Abdul Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna gave the BJP-led Centre four weeks' time to reply on the matter. SC also barred High Courts from passing orders on CAA.
CAA was passed in Parliament last month and was welcomed with brickbats across the nation. The ruling BJP amended Section 2 of the Citizenship Act which would make it easier for persecuted non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to get Indian citizenship. By excluding Muslims, the saffron party miffed many sections, who claimed the law contradicts the values enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
With the Bill getting President Ram Nath Kovind's assent, its critics approached SC, seeking to declare the law unconstitutional. At the outset of today's hearing, CJI Bobde raised an objection at the crowd, whose voices drowned the bench's. As some lawyers found it difficult to enter the courtroom, Attorney General KK Venugopal asked SC to issue guidelines on who should be allowed to visit.
The Attorney General told CJI SA Bobde that this court has to issue some direction on who can come to court, some rules are to be framed. He also said that Supreme Court of the United States and Supreme Court of Pakistan have regulations for visitors inside courtroom. https://t.co/sO2YWJxpWd— ANI (@ANI) January 22, 2020
During hearing, senior lawyer and Congress leader Kapil Sibal suggested the law should go to a constitutional bench, and CJI Bobde concurred. The Centre's top law officer apprised the bench that the government was given copies of only 60 pleas and requested more time.
Meanwhile, senior advocate Vikas Singh claimed the law violates Assam Accord. He said Assam deals with a unique problem of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. Residents of the Northeastern state fear CAA will have a poor impact on the area's demography. On this, Venugopal urged SC to deal with Assam's petitions separately and CJI Bobde said that they should be listed after two weeks.
The hearing wasn't just restricted to CAA, and NPR (National Population Register) also made an appearance. Senior lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi requested the bench to stay the NPR process. Citing Uttar Pradesh's example, Singhvi said some households have already been "marked out" and their residents might lose voting rights. His party colleague Sibal concurred and asked SC to postpone it for three months.
"Without any rules being framed, 40 Lakh people have been marked doubtful. This has happened in 19 districts of UP. Their right to vote will be lost. Kindly stay the process. That's our prayer. This will prevent a lot of chaos and insecurity," Singhvi said.