Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad Wednesday hit back at states rejecting the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, saying they have a “constitutional duty” of implementing laws passed by Parliament. These states should also seek appropriate legal opinion before taking such decisions, he added.
Prasad’s remark came a day after the Kerala Assembly on Tuesday passed a resolution demanding that the CAA, legislation ratified by both Houses of Parliament and the President, be scrapped. He said it was surprising that those who have come to power by taking oath under the Constitution are making “unconstitutional” statements.
In Kerala assembly, the resolution — the first such move by a state against the CAA — was moved by CPM leader and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, and seconded by Congress leader and Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala. The CPM and Congress had earlier organised a joint protest against the law in the state.
Dismissing the resolution, Prasad referred to Clause 2 of Article 245 of the Constitution. He said Parliament can make laws on subjects under the Union List which includes citizenship. “Article 245 (clause 2) states that no law made by Parliament shall be deemed to be invalid on the ground that it would have extra-territorial operation,” PTI quoted him as saying.
The Kerala move is significant given that at least several states, including BJD-ruled Odisha, have declared that they would not implement the Act. Chief Ministers of West Bengal, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have also indicated that the new law will have no place in their respective states.
Hours after the Kerala resolution was passed, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that Vijayan should “seek better legal advice”. “It is only the Parliament which has got the powers to pass any legislation with regard to citizenship, not any Assembly, including the Kerala Assembly,” Prasad said.
Prasad said the law is “binding on the entire country” and is “perfectly legal and constitutional”. “The CAA is not related to any Indian Muslim, much less to any Indian citizen. It is only related to six persecuted communities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who are being singled out due to their faith,’’ he said.
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