Referring to the nationwide protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and saying the Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress government at the Centre had faced greater opposition in 1986, after it overturned the Supreme Court judgment in the Shah Bano case, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan said on Saturday that states have no option but to implement the law.
“Eighty-six me Supreme Court ka judgment badla gaya tha. Agar us waqt aap hote to aap dekhte ki isse zyada virodh hua tha (The Supreme Court judgment was overturned in 1986. Had you been there at the time, you would have seen that there was more opposition [to the government’s decision] than this [to CAA],” Khan said while answering questions on the recent CAA protests.
In 1986, the then Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress government, had passed the Muslim Women (Protection on Divorce Act), 1986, to overturn the Supreme Court verdict in the Shah Bano case on granting alimony to the divorced woman. Khan, who was then a Union minister, had famously resigned from the Cabinet in protest against the decision.
Khan added that states will have to implement the new law. “You have the right to go to the Supreme Court and challenge but the citizenship law comes only under the Union list and is not a subject under the State list. We should identify the areas where we have jurisdiction. Under the law, there is no option but (the states) have to implement it under (Article) 254,” said Khan.
On January 14, Kerala became the first state to move the Supreme Court against CAA, with the Left Front government filing a petition under Article 131 and urging it to declare the law violative of the Constitution, its basic structure rule and secular principles. The state Assembly had earlier passed a resolution against CAA, demanding that the law be scrapped. On Friday, Punjab joined suit, with the Assembly adopting a resolution seeking the immediate repeal of the law and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said his government would approach the top court against it.
On Saturday, Khan, who was in Jaipur as chief guest for a discussion on the dating of the Ramayana and Mahabharata era, said one doesn’t have the right to influence decisions by “displaying muscle power”.
“We are a robust democracy and it is not that we became a democracy (only) after Independence. A spiritual democracy has always been here. People put forward their opinions and they are welcome. But one point needs to be kept in mind, we have the right to give our opinion, stick to it, protest for our stand but we don’t have the right to break the limits of law, or try to influence decisions by displaying our muscle power. You can put forward your argument by applying your intellectual power, everyone has this right,” he said.
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