The Congress-ruled Rajasthan government moved the Supreme Court Monday challenging the validity of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, saying it was violative of “basic structure principle of secularism” and fundamental rights of equality and life. It became the second state after Kerala to move the top court invoking Article 131 of the Constitution under which a state is empowered to directly move the top court in case of a dispute with the Centre.
The newly amended law seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim migrants belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Jain and Parsi communities who came to the country from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan on or before December 31, 2014.
“Pass a judgement and decree that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 is violative of Article 14 (right to equality) and Article 21 (right to life) of the Constitution of India as well as violative of basic structure principle of secularism. Thus Act 47 of 2019 (CAA) be declared as void under Article 13 of the Constitution,” said the plea filed through lawyer D K Devesh.
Article 13 of the Constitution, under which the CAA is sought to be held as unconstitutional, says any law “inconsistent with or in derogation of the fundamental rights” can be held unconstitutional to the extent of its contravention of fundamental rights. The plea said the CAA be declared “ultra vires” to the provisions of the Constitution of India.
Besides, the plea has stated that the Passport (Entry to India) Amendment Rules, 2015 and Foreigners (Amendment) Order are ultra vires the Constitution and be declared void. It said the CAA, the amended Passport Rules and Foreign Order are class legislations harping on the religious identity of an individual, thereby contravening the principles of secularism, which has been recognised by the court as a basic structure of the Constitution.
Earlier, the CPI(M)-led Kerala had become the first state to challenge the CAA in the Supreme Court. The Kerala Assembly was also the first in the country to pass a resolution against the Act. The Kerala government had said in its suit that there is no rationale in grouping together the three countries — Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh — for the purpose of the CAA and rules and orders.
“Such grouping is not founded on any rationale principle justifying a separate special treatment for the irrationally chosen class of religious minorities facing persecution on the basis of religion therein,” it had said.
On December 18, 2019, the top court had issued a notice to the Centre and sought its response by the second week of January on a batch of pleas challenging the CAA’s legality. The apex court had fixed January 22 for hearing 59 anti-CAA petitions, including those filed by the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh.
RJD leader Manoj Jha, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra and AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi have also filed pleas against the act. Other anti-CAA petitioners include the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, All Assam Students Union (AASU), Peace Party, CPI, NGOs ‘Rihai Manch’ and Citizens Against Hate. Several law students have also approached the apex court challenging the Act.