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CAA in SC highlights: Court gives Centre 4 weeks to respond, restrains HCs from passing orders on pleas

Supreme Court (SC) Hearing on CAA Today: A three-judge bench headed by CJI S A Bobde, which was hearing a batch of 143 pleas, granted the Centre four weeks to reply. It also restrained all high courts from hearing pleas related to CAA till it decided on petitions

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: January 22, 2020 12:57:23 pm
Supreme court on CAA, Supreme court hearing on caa, sc on caa, CAA protests, SC on CAA protests, SC on CAA legality, SC on CAA, SC on citizenship law Citizenship Amendment Act in SC: Nationwide protests broke out after the law was introduced and passed in Parliament’s winter session last year, resulting in 26 deaths.

SC hearing on CAA: The Supreme Court Wednesday refused to stay the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) until it heard the Centre’s response and hinted that it would set up a five-judge Constitution bench to hear the matter. A three-judge bench headed by CJI S A Bobde, which was hearing a batch of 143 pleas, granted the Centre four weeks to reply. It also restrained all high courts from hearing pleas related to CAA till it decided on petitions

During the hearing, Attorney General KK Venugopal arguing for the Centre said the government had been given copies of only 60 of 143 pleas and hence required more time to respond. CJI Bobde said the court may refer the matter to a Constitution Bench. Senior advocates AM Singhvi, Kapil Sibal appearing for the petitioners requested the court to put on hold operation of CAA and postpone the exercise of NPR for the time being.

The petitions contend that CAA stands against the basic structure of the Constitution and is illegal. Some of the petitions have also sought the legislation that came into force on January 10 be withdrawn. Petitioners include Congress MP Jairam Ramesh, the Indian Union Muslim League, and its MPs, Lok Sabha MP and AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi, TMC MP Mahua Moitra, All Assam Students’ Union and Tripura royal scion Pradyot Kishore Deb Barman.

Live Blog

Supreme Court says no stay on CAA implementation without Centre’s response. Read highlights in Tamil

12:14 (IST)22 Jan 2020
CAA in SC: Assam, Tripura petitions to be heard separately

The bench said it will hear petitions pertaining to Assam and Tripura separately as the problem with CAA in these two states is different from rest of the country. "The petitions concerning Assam and Tripura as well as matters related to Uttar Pradesh, which is going ahead with the implementation of CAA without framing any rules, can be dealt with separately," the court said.

12:13 (IST)22 Jan 2020
CAA in SC: Impression that people who have concerns with law will not be disappointed, says Ramesh Chennithala

Ramesh Chennithala, Leader of Opposition in Kerala said, "The attitude of the court has been very positive in this regard. There are 144 petitions. The government asked for six weeks to file a counter-affidavit but the SC gave four weeks. There will be a decision after it. The court has taken a very serious view of it. There have been earlier instances when the court has swatted aside petitions against laws enacted by Parliament. But here, a final decision will come only after four weeks. This is a larger constitutional matter, that's how this is shaping out to be. There's certainly an impression that the people who have concerns regarding the law will not be disappointed. We felt so." 

12:11 (IST)22 Jan 2020
CAA in SC: It's a serious matter, court hearing was positive, says PK Kunhalikutty, IUML general secretary

PK Kunhalikutty, IUML general secretary felt that the court hearing was positive. "This is a very serious matter. Once citizenship is given, it cannot be taken back. Kapil Sibal had strongly argued that since the matter involves a lot of legalities, it must not be implemented now and must be postponed. The government has asked time to respond and the SC has given four weeks' time. Kapil Sibal also asked for the matter to be referred to a larger constitution bench. People who listened to the hearing felt the court was positive to the request. The IUML had also pleaded that there are contradictory statements being made (on CAA-NRC) inside and outside Parliament. So the court has issued a notice in this regard." The IUML submitted in its plea that CAA violates the fundamental Right to Equality and intends to grant citizenship to a section of illegal immigrants by making an exclusion on the basis of religion.

11:25 (IST)22 Jan 2020
Centre seeks 6 weeks to respond to petitions

CJI Bobde says notice will be issued on all petitions. AG seeks a period of six weeks to file counters on the grounds that about 80 more petitions have been filed. Petitioners oppose the request for six weeks, Bar and Bench reported. 

11:23 (IST)22 Jan 2020
There is really no rule for marking people as doubtful: Petitioner

Continuing the same argument, Senior advocate CK Viswanathan said, "There is really no rule for marking people as doubtful. So some kind of Jerry meandering will take place in the electoral rolls. People of all sorts will be left out of electoral roll."

11:22 (IST)22 Jan 2020
Kindly stay NPR process: Petitioners

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi cites the example of Uttar Pradesh. He ells the Court that in UP, several households have already been marked out to hint at doubtful status. Sibal adds that these people may lose voting rights. "Without any rules being framed, 40 Lakh people have been marked doubtful. This has happened in 19 districts of UP. Their right to vote will be lost. Kindly stay the process. That's our prayer. This will prevent a lot of chaos and insecurity," Singhvi said in the court, Live Law reported

11:17 (IST)22 Jan 2020
Assam petitions to be listed separately after two weeks

A batch of petitioners raising the Assam issue seek to be heard and for a notice to be issued. They propose that the general matter of CAA and the matter concerning the law in Assam should be treated differently for the purpose of interim orders. CJI agrees to list Assam petitions separately after two weeks, Live Law reported. 

11:14 (IST)22 Jan 2020
CAA in SC: Centre says served with only 60 pleas, requests for more time

During the hearing, Attorney General KK Venugopal arguing for Centre said the Government has been given copies of around 60 pleas out of 143 petitions challenging the law and hence wants more time to respond to pleas which have not been served to it. The apex court added that it will not grant any stay on CAA without hearing the Centre. CJI Bobde said the court may refer the matter to a Constitution Bench.

11:01 (IST)22 Jan 2020
CAA violates Assam Accord: Petitioner in Supreme Court

Senior Advocate AM Singhvi mentions that many states have started the NPR process. Senior Advocate Vikas Singh presses for an interim order, saying that the law violates Assam Accord.

11:00 (IST)22 Jan 2020
Petitioners request court to postpone NPR process for 3 months

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal arguing for the petitioners says that the NPR process will start in April and many states have already begun the process of documentation. Stating that citizenship once granted can’t be reversed, Sibal requests court to grant a nearby date. "Kindly postpone the (NPR)process for 3 months. In the meanwhile your lordships can decide," he told in the court, Live Law reported

10:57 (IST)22 Jan 2020
Maybe it should go to a Constitution Bench, says CJI SA Bobde

CJI SA Bobde expresses concern over the situation in the courtroom. He also said the matter should probably be referred to a Constitution Bench. 

10:51 (IST)22 Jan 2020
CAA in SC: Lawyers unable to enter courtroom

The Bench of CJI SA Bobde with Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna have assembled and the hearing should shortly. Owing to a large crowd and excessive noise in the Chief Justice of India's Courtroom, a discussion is taking place between some senior bar members and the CJI. News reports also suggest that the lawyers are also unable to enter the courtroom. The Attorney General told CJI SA Bobde that this court has to issue some direction on who can come to court, some rules are to be framed. He also said that the Supreme Court of the United States and Supreme Court of Pakistan have regulations for visitors inside the courtroom.

10:45 (IST)22 Jan 2020
SC to also hear govt on transfer of CAA pleas from high courts today

The Supreme Court will today also hear the government’s plea seeking transfer of all matters related to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act pending before High Courts to the top court. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, told a bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde that there was a possibility that High Courts may give different orders which will create confusion. However, the bench said the court was of the prima facie view that the High Court should also look into the matter and the Supreme Court could look at it in case of a conflict.

10:35 (IST)22 Jan 2020
Protesters can protest but we are not going to withdraw CAA: Amit Shah

Even as protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) continue in various parts of the country, Union Home Minister Amit Shah Tuesday said the government won’t step back on the contentious legislation. Addressing a rally in Lucknow, Shah said, “I want to say it again that the government is not going back on the CAA. Those who want to protest may continue doing so." Asserting that the law has nothing against the citizens of the country, Shah hit out at the Opposition parties for spreading “lies” about the CAA. “There is no provision of taking anyone’s citizenship in CAA. Canards being spread against CAA by Congress, SP, BSP, TMC,” the Home Minister added.

10:34 (IST)22 Jan 2020
SC hearing on CAA: Students to boycott classes, exams in Northeast, Assam today

Ahead of the Supreme Court hearing, a  number of universities and colleges in Assam and the Northeast have called for a shutdown. This includes Dibrugarh University, Tezpur University, Gauhati University, Cotton College, Nagaland University, Rajiv Gandhi University, among others. Students have confirmed that while they will boycott classes, exams will go on as per schedule.

10:31 (IST)22 Jan 2020
SC hearing on CAA Today: What has the government said on CAA?

The government has repeatedly denied allegations that the law is against the right to equality or targets a specific religion. They say that the Citizenship Amendment Act will help expedite the grant of citizenship to non-Muslim minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh who came to India due to religious persecution and settled here before 2015. Home Minister Amit Shah said that under the Act, citizenship would be granted and not taken away from anyone. 

10:26 (IST)22 Jan 2020
What exactly is debatable about the law, legally and constitutionally?

Legal experts and Opposition leaders have argued that it violates the letter and spirit of the Constitution. One argument made in Parliament is that the law violates Article 14 that guarantees equal protection of laws. According to the legal test prescribed by courts, for a law to satisfy the conditions under Article 14, it has to first create a “reasonable class” of subjects that it seeks to govern under the law.

Second, the legislation has to show a “rational nexus” between the subject and the object it seeks to achieve. Even if the classification is reasonable, any person who falls in that category has to be treated alike. If protecting the persecuted minorities is ostensibly the objective of the law, then the exclusion of some countries and using religion as a yardstick may fall foul of the test.

Further, granting citizenship on the grounds of religion is seen to be against the secular nature of the Constitution which has been recognised as part of the basic structure that cannot be altered by Parliament.

10:18 (IST)22 Jan 2020

Welcome to The Indian Express live blog on Supreme Court's hearing on CAA pleas today. A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, will examine the constitutional validity of the law. Follow this space to track the latest developments

‘BJP using CAA, NRC to divide people on communal lines’ A 40-foot-tall map of India at the Shaheen Bagh protest, Saturday. (Express photo by Gajendra Yadav)

CAA grants 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.

Nationwide protests broke out after the law was introduced and passed in Parliament's winter session in December last year, resulting in 26 deaths.

In December, the top court issued notice to the Centre. The court also refused an urgent hearing against the law in January, saying "the country is going through difficult times." "This court’s job is to determine the validity of a law and not declare it as constitutional," the CJI then said.

The government has repeatedly denied allegations that the law is against the right to equality or targets a specific religion. Underscoring the government’s hard-line, Home Minister Amit Shah in a rally on Tuesday said that the law would not be withdrawn under any circumstance. "Main aaj Lucknow ki bhumi se danke ki chot pe kehne aya hun, jisko virodh karna hai kar de, Citizenship (Amendment) Bill vapas nahi hone wala hai (Today, I want to say in Lucknow without any hesitation that whoever wants to protest can do so but the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill would not be withdrawn)."

The plea filed by Jairam Ramesh said the Act is a "brazen attack" on the core fundamental rights envisaged under the Constitution and treats "equals as unequal". IUML said in its plea that CAA violates the fundamental Right to Equality and intends to grant citizenship to a section of illegal immigrants by making an exclusion on the basis of religion.

Meanwhile, Kerala became the first state to move the apex court challenging the CAA under Article 131 of the Constitution. The Pinarayi Vijayan-led government has sought the law be declared unconstitutional and stated that it was in violation of Article 14 (Equality before law), 21 (Protection of life and personal liberty) and 25 (Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice, and propagation of religion) of the Constitution.

Opinion |  CM Vijayan writes: Kerala sees it as its responsibility to take up the mantle in this struggle for justice

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