Supreme Court issues notices on Centre’s plea

The Asian Age.  | Parmod Kumar

India, All India

Lok Sabha had passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, on December 2, 2019 and Rajya Sabha had passed it on December 11, 2019.

Protesters participate in a rally against the National Register of Citizens, Citizenship Amendment Act and National Population Register in Hyderabad on Friday. (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice on a plea by the Centre seeking the transfer all the petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that are pending before different high courts.

The CAA provides for the grant of Indian citizenship of Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians, Buddhists and Jains facing persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The law under challenge excludes Muslims.

A bench comprising Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice B.R. Gavai and Justice Surya Kant issued notice to all the petitioners who have approached the high courts challenging the validity of the amended citizenship law as Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought their transfer to the apex court.

As Mr Mehta urged the court that all the matters be heard by the top court as it was already seized of a batch of the petitions challenging the CAA, CJI Bobde said that they would like to be benefited by the views of different high courts on the issue.

CJI Bobde had on Wednesday (January 8) said when Solicitor General had mentioned the matter for hearing, “We are of the prima facie view that high courts should hear petitions challenging the CAA and in case there is a conflict, we may look into it.”

The top court had on December 18, 2019, had sought a response from the Centre on a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the controversial  Act.

The top court will hold a further hearing on January 22, 2020 when it will also consider the plea for the stay of the amended citizenship law, which has been described by the petitioner as being contrary to the provisions of the Constitution.

The Centre has opposed the stay of the controversial law contending that the statute under challenge could not be stalled as there was an assumption of constitutionality in favour of the statute passed by Parliament.

Broadly, the petitioners opposed to the CAA have contended that it was contrary to the secularism in the preamble of the Constitution, violative of the fundamental rights guaranteeing equality before law (Article 14), prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of religion, caste, language, colour (Article 15) and the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

It has also been contended that the law under challenge is violative of the basic structure of the Constitution as secularism, equality before law, prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth and the protection of life and personal liberty are part of its basic structure.

Lok Sabha had passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, on December 2, 2019 and Rajya Sabha had passed it on December 11, 2019.

The gazette notification of Citizenship (Amendment) Act was issued on December 12, 2019, which said that it would come into force from the date that may be notified by the Central government at a later date.