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No stay, SC asks Centre to publicise Act’s provisions

CJI Bobde declined to oblige some of the petitioners’ lawyers, who pressed for a stay, and said that the Bench would not hear the matter Wednesday.

No stay, SC asks Centre to publicise Act’s provisions A bench of Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant instructed Attorney General K K Venugopal to ask the government to publicise the provisions of the Act through the media to remove any confusion. (File photo)

REFUSING TO stay the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, the Supreme Court Wednesday issued notice to the Centre on a clutch of 59 petitions challenging the amendments, and said it would hear the matter on January 22.

A bench of Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant, also instructed Attorney General K K Venugopal to ask the government to publicise the provisions of the Act through the media to remove any confusion.

CJI Bobde declined to oblige some of the petitioners’ lawyers, who pressed for a stay, and said that the Bench would not hear the matter Wednesday.

Opposing the pleas, Venugopal submitted that there were at least four judgments of the Supreme Court to show that the amendments cannot be stayed.

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Senior Counsel Rajeev Dhavan pointed out the Act had not come into existence as the rules had not been notified yet.

Towards the end of the brief hearing, Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay said there was a lot of confusion regarding the Act’s provisions and urged the court to direct the government to clarify them. He said he had visited Seelampur in the National Capital, which witnessed violent protests Tuesday, and said people were confused about the provisions.

On being asked by the Bench, the A-G said the government would be “happy to do it”, and that he would pass on the instructions to the authorities even without a written order.

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The amendments seek to provide citizenship by naturalisation to “illegal migrants” belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, who entered India on or before December 31, 2014.

Those challenging the amendments argue that by excluding Muslims, a distinction is being created on the basis of religion and violates the tenet of secularism, which is part of the basic structure of the Constitution.

The petitioners include Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, IUML and its MPs, Lok Sabha MP and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, TMC MP Mahua Moitra, All Assam Students Union, Tripura royal Pradyot Kishore Deb Barman and others.

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In his plea, Ramesh contended that the Act is a “brazen attack on the core fundamental rights envisaged under the Constitution” and “violates the fundamental guarantees under Article 14 as also Article 21 of the Constitution”.

Owaisi has challenged the Act on the ground that it was “arbitrary” and “primarily focussed on establishing a religion-based classification which is, in and of itself, an impermissible classification…” The Act, he claimed, “explicitly discriminates against Muslims” and “violates the right to life, liberty and dignity”.

First published on: 19-12-2019 at 04:36:17 am
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