Congress-ruled Punjab will become the second state after Kerala to bring in an Assembly resolution Friday seeking the repeal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. The state government will also seek amendment to the form of the National Population Register (NPR) to allay fears in certain quarters regarding the NPR and National Register of Citizens (NRC).
In Chhattisgarh, another Congress-ruled state, the government is considering if it can denotify an October 2019 order which announced the state’s participation in the NPR exercise.
This move by the Congress governments in the states comes days after the Opposition parties urged Chief Ministers to demand the scrapping of the CAA, suspend the NPR exercise and reject the proposed NRC process.
Punjab’s move Friday will coincide with a meeting called in New Delhi by the Union Home Ministry to discuss modalities for the Census 2020 and NPR. It will be attended by Chief Secretaries and Census Directors of all states. Opposition parties say the NPR is a “prelude” to the NRC.
The draft resolution prepared by Punjab states that the CAA has caused “countrywide anguish” and “social unrest with widespread protests” across the country. The state of Punjab, it says, also witnessed peaceful protests by “all segments of our society”.
The CAA, the draft says, seeks to negate the very secular fabric on which the Constitution of India is based, that it is divisive and stands for everything opposed to a free and fair democracy which must enshrine equality for all.
“Alongside the religion-based discrimination in granting citizenship, it is apprehended that the CAA is also likely to endanger the linguistic and cultural identity of some sections of our people. CAA also envisages cancellation of registration of overseas citizens of India card holders if they violate any law,” it says.
EXPLAINED: Centre-state disputes and Article 131
The resolution also says the CAA is aimed at distinguishing illegal migrants on the basis of religion, which is not permissible under the Constitution. “It is also violative of Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to equality and equal protection of the laws to all persons,” it says.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, responding to a query Thursday on whether his government will bring a resolution in the Assembly against the CAA, said: “Wait till tomorrow.”
On Tuesday, his government had announced that it will proceed according to the “will of the House” on the issue of CAA, NPR and NCR.
The Punjab cabinet had agreed with the Chief Minister’s view that the CAA, especially when coupled with NRC and NPR, was violative of the Preamble. Advocate General Atul Nanda, an official statement said, also presented the legal perspective on the matter before the Council of Ministers.
Last week, the Chief Minister had opposed the CAA, and had supported the Kerala Assembly resolution. In a statement, he had said that as far as his government was concerned, there was no way it would allow the divisive Act to be implemented in Punjab. “You cannot force us to do so,” he said.
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