20 May 2020
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice to the Centre on five fresh petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 (CAA), citing specific exclusion of Muslims was against the principle of secularism under the Constitution, and the right to equality.
Notified on January 10, the CAA seeks to grantIndian citizenship to non-Muslims minorities -- Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, who have migrated from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014, after facing faith-based persecution.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy, taking up the matter through video-conferencing, issued the notice on the pleas filed by All Assam Law Students Union, Tamil Nadu Thoweed Jamath, Shalim, Muslim Students Federation (Assam) and Sachin Yadav.
The apex court also ordered their tagging with the other PILs filed on the matter.
The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) is the lead petitioner, and in December last year, the top court had said it will examine the constitutional validity of the CAA, but refused to stay the operation of the law. Nearly 160 pleas have been filed opposing the CAA.
One of the pleas said it was raising important questions in connection with the promulgation of the CAA, where for the first time, religion has been introduced as a condition for acquisition of Indian citizenship for undocumented migrants from the three neighboring countries.
The pleas argued that the classification based on the religious identity of the individual is against the fundamental principle of secularism, which is an integral component of the Constitution.
The pleas have argued that citizenship is being extended to a certain class of migrants, and this violates Article 14 (right to equality) and 21 (right to equality) of the Constitution. The IUML had argued that CAA violates the fundamental right to equality and intends to grant citizenship to a section of illegal immigrants by making exclusion on the basis of religion.