Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Sunday criticised the states that have opposed the implementation of the amended Citizenship Act (CAA) and underlined that their opposing stand is “unconstitutional”. She further said that all states have the responsibility to ensure that a law passed by Parliament is implemented.
Speaking at an interactive event organised by the Chennai Citizens’ Forum, Sitharaman said that resolutions passed by some state assemblies, like Kerala and Punjab, were political statements.
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“We can understand that. But saying they will not implement it, then it is against the law. It is unconstitutional to say that… Everybody in this country has the responsibility to implement the law which has been passed in Parliament,” she was quoted as saying by PTI.
Her remarks came close on the heels of senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal stating that it would be “unconstitutional” for state governments to say they will not implement it.
However, Congress asserted Sunday that states have the right to disagree with the Centre and until the issue is resolved in court, they cannot be “forced” to implement the “unconstitutional” law.
“Let the BJP government and its governors not forget that India is a Union of states. As per the established parliamentary practice, states can disagree with the Union and challenge the same by way of their constitutional right under Article 131 of the Constitution,” Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said in a statement.
“Until the issue is resolved on a petition moved under Article 131, states cannot be forced to implement an unconstitutional law like the CAA,” Surjewala added.
In her address, Sitharaman also stated that there is no necessity to relate the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register with the CAA and urged the opposition to refrain from allegations that might result in a compromised law and order situations across the country.
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The Finance Minister also rejected allegations that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government was selective in granting citizenship and pointed out that Pakistani singer Adnan Sami was amongst more than 3,900 people who had been given citizenship in the last six years.
Several state governments, including Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, and Maharashtra have expressed their disagreement with the CAA, as well as the NRC and the NPR.
Sitharaman said that during the last six years, a total of 2,838 Pakistan nationals, 914 from Afganisthan and 172 from Bangladesh have received Indian citizenship. This included 566 Muslims.
“Besides, 4.61 lakh Tamils from Sri Lanka during the period 1964-2008 have received citizenships,” Sitharaman added.
“This data is for those who comment that the government has not given citizenships for Muslims. For example, Adnan Sami, he is a singer of prominence. He received citizenship in 2016 when the same Prime Minister was there then,” she said.
The minister also cited the case of Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen, who has been given residence permit since 2004.
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