The European Parliament Wednesday postponed voting on a joint motion tabled by its members against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). However, the joint motion, combining five different resolutions tabled by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), has been placed on the final agenda for debate at the Plenary session in Brussels on Wednesday, news agency PTI reported.
“Following a decision by MEPs at the opening of today’s Plenary session in Brussels, the vote on the resolution on India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 has been postponed to the March session,” the European Parliament said in a statement.
The debate on the motion is to go ahead as scheduled on Wednesday evening, it said.
One of the groups behind the motion, the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D), said that the reason for the postponement was the legal process relating to the CAA in India. “As the Supreme Court in India will rule in the coming days linked to this issue and, as such, the law may be adapted, it was considered better to vote on the resolution in the European Parliament when there is full clarity on the situation,” a spokesperson was quoted as saying by PTI.
Earlier, PTI reported that the motion will include five different resolutions that are tabled by the MEPs. It was also reported that the motion does entail about the statement made by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) last month, which termed India’s legislation as “fundamentally discriminatory in nature”.
The motion also included the UN and EU guidelines on human rights and it urges the Indian government to “repeal the discriminatory amendments”.
“While the CAA’s stated goal of protecting persecuted groups is welcome, an effective national asylum and refugee policy should be just and holistic in nature and apply to all those in need,” the motion was quoted as stating, which describes the CAA as “discriminatory in nature and dangerously divisive”.
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The government has maintained that the amended Citizenship law is strictly an internal matter of the country as it underlined that the objective of the amendment is to protect the oppressed minorities of the neighbouring countries.
Earlier, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Monday wrote to European Parliament President David Maria Sassoli over the resolutions, saying it is inappropriate for one legislature to pass judgment on another and the practice can be misused by vested interests. “As members of Inter Parliamentary Union, we should respect sovereign processes of fellow legislatures, especially in democracies,” Birla said in the letter.
The European Parliament motion criticises any protection being denied to Muslims and that even though India also shares a border with Bhutan, Burma, Nepal and Sri Lanka, the CAA does not bring Sri Lankan Tamils under its purview, who form the largest refugee group in India and who have been resident in the country for over 30 years. “Amnesty International India has pointed out that the CAA does not bring under its purview other persecuted minorities, including Muslim populations such as the Rohingya in Burma, Ahmadis in Pakistan, Hazaras in Afghanistan and Bihari Muslims in Bangladesh,” it notes.
The motion also has a reference of the Indian government’s “push” for a nationwide citizenship verification process, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which it says “aims to strip Muslims of their citizenship rights while protecting those of Hindus and other non-Muslims”.
The motion combines the separate resolutions tabled by the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D), Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) (PPE), Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance (Verts/ALE), Renew Europe Group (Renew) and European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) Group, representing around 560 of a total 751 MEPs.
PTI reported that a sixth group, the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR), had withdrawn its resolution and references to the revocation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir in some of the resolutions have not been included in the final motion.
(Inputs from PTI)
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