Hearing over 140 petitions, mostly against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), which was passed in both the Houses of Parliament last month, the Supreme Court Wednesday said it will not grant any stay on CAA without hearing the Centre and that it will set up a five-judge Constitution bench to hear the pleas.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde gave four weeks to the government to file a reply. It also restrained all high courts from hearing pleas on CAA till it decides petitions.
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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. Senior advocates AM Singhvi and Kapil Sibal appearing for the petitioners requested the court to postpone the exercise of National Population Register (NPR) for a few months.
To this, the court said it will not grant any stay on CAA without hearing the Centre on the matter. It said that the order on granting any interim relief to petitioner opposing CAA will be passed after four weeks.
Some of the petitions have also sought the legislation that came into force on January 10 be withdrawn.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.
The IUML submitted in its plea that CAA violates the Right to Equality and intends to grant citizenship to a section of illegal immigrants by making an exclusion on the basis of religion.
The plea filed by Ramesh said the Act is a “brazen attack” on core fundamental rights envisaged under the Constitution and treats “equals as unequal”.
The CAA seeks to grant citizenship to 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.
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