Political acrimony over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act intensified Wednesday with Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad reading Constitutional provisions to state governments, saying they would have to implement the Act, while Kerala Chief Minister M Pinarayi Vijayan reminded the Centre that state assemblies have their own privileges.
“It’s surprising that the governments that have taken oath on the Constitution are talking anti-Constitutional that we will not implement the CAA. It’s passed by Parliament… Laws passed by Parliament will be implemented throughout the country… Subject to the provisions of the Constitution, Parliament may make laws for the whole or any part of the Union of India,” Prasad told reporters.
He cited Articles 245, 246 and 256 — that deal with the enactment of laws and demarcation of powers for the Union and the states — to assert that every state is obliged to implement rules made by Parliament, and said citizenship is a subject on which Parliament can form rules for the entire country.
“Legislature of the state may make laws for the whole or any part of the state. Article 245 (clause 2): No law made by Parliament shall be deemed to be invalid on the ground that it would have extra-territorial operation,” he said.
Reminding the states of their “Constitutional responsibility”, Prasad said: “If they have taken oath on the Constitution, they should respect its provisions. Those state governments may take better legal advises.”
Rejecting BJP’s criticism against the Kerala assembly’s resolution, Vijayan maintained that assemblies have their own privileges.
Reacting to BJP MP G V L Narasimha Rao’s move write to Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu to initiate breach of parliamentary privileges and contempt proceedings against him over the resolution, Vijayan said in Thiruvananthapuram: “State assemblies have own privileges. Such actions are unheard of anywhere. But we cannot rule out anything in the present circumstance as unprecedented things are happening nowadays in the country.”
The assemblies, he said, have their own special protection and that should not be violated. He said Kerala has become the first state to pass a resolution against a law which has been violating the fundamental principles of the Constitution and it has great significance.
While Chief Ministers of non-BJP ruled states like Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal and Congress-ruled states have announced that they would not implement CAA, the CPM-led Left Democratic Front-ruled Kerala was the first to take the legislature route to register its opposition to the law.
The state assemblies have in the past too passed resolutions against laws passed by Parliament. In 2014, the assembly of undivided Andhra Pradesh had passed a resolution rejecting the Central government’s Bill to create Telangana — the Congress was in power, both at the Centre and in the state then. However, the central government went ahead with the bifurcation of the state.
In 2016, when the Supreme Court had ordered release of Cauvery water for Tamil Nadu, the Karnataka legislature had adopted an unanimous resolution to use the Cauvery water only to meet drinking water needs and not to provide it for any other purpose.
In 2018, the Delhi assembly, in which AAP has a brute majority, passed a resolution demanding that Bharat Ratna awarded to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi be withdrawn over the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
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