Millennium Post

SC seeks Centre's response on fresh plea against CAA, MHA's notification

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought a response of the Centre on a fresh plea filed by 20 West Bengal natives, challenging the constitutional validity of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, and a Home Ministry notification to make the law operational.

A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde, and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant issued notices to union ministries of home affairs, law and justice and external affairs and tagged the plea filed by Israrul Hoque Mondal, a resident of Purba Bardhaman in West Bengal and 19 others, for hearing with other pending petitions on January 22.

The top court, on December 18 last year, had decided to examine the constitutional validity of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) while refusing to stay its operation.

The amended law seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim migrants belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Jain and Parsi communities who came to the country from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan on or before December 31, 2014.

The fresh plea "seeks to challenge the notification issued by the MHA..., being ultra vires of Articles 14 (right to equality), 19 (freedom of speech and expression) and 21 (right to life) of the Constitution and sections 2, 3 5 and 6 of the CAA, 2019."

It alleged that the MHA's circular and the CAA are ultra vires to the Constitution for "violating" the principle of constitutional morality and it directly hits "the basic structure" by undermining the principles of secularism, equality, dignity of life and pluralism.

The plea alleged that there was a link between the CAA and the National Register of Indian Citizens as envisaged by a provision of the the Citizenship Act, 1955 and Rules 3 of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.

"The joint effect of the impugned amendment (CAA) and the rules is that lakhs of bonafide Indians (Muslims) are at the risk of being declared 'doubtful citizens'," it said, adding that Hindu, Sikhs, Buddhist, Parsi, Jain and Christians would be getting the citizenship under the "deeming fiction of refuge from religious persecution". Earlier, the top court had issued notices to the Centre on over 60 petitions, including those filed by the Indian Union Muslim League and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, against the CAA.

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