Flagging its concern over the “violence” in the wake of amendments to the Citizenship Act, the Supreme Court Thursday observed that the endeavour must be for peace.
“As such there is so much of violence… The country is going through difficult times and the endeavour should be for peace. Such petitions don’t help,” Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, heading a three-judge bench, told a lawyer who mentioned a plea which sought a declaration that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act is constitutional and demanded action against protesters and media houses for “spreading rumours”.
The bench, also comprising Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant, expressed surprise at the prayer to declare the Act as Constitutional, saying there was already a presumption of Constitutionality to a law passed by Parliament.
The CJI said the court’s role was to examine the validity, and not declare a law Constitutional. “How can we declare it constitutional? There is anyway a presumption of Constitutionality. You have been a student of law, you would know,” CJI Bobde told advocate Vineet Dhanda who mentioned the petition filed by Mumbai-based lawyer Puneet Kaur Dhanda.
Dhanda sought an urgent hearing on the petition, but the court did not grant it. On December 18, the apex court had decided to hear petitions challenging the Act and issued notices. It refused to stay the operation of the Act and set January 22 as the hearing date.
Issuing notice, it also orally instructed Attorney General K K Venugopal to ask the government to publicise the provisions of the Act through the media to remove any confusion over it.
It will hear Friday a plea by the Centre seeking transfer of petitions challenging the Act pending before various High Courts to the top court. On Wednesday, appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that there was a possibility that High Courts may give different orders which will create confusion.
The bench said the court was of the prima facie view that the High Courts should also look into the matter and the Supreme Court could look at it in case of a conflict. Mehta pointed out that there were already about 60 petitions challenging the Act pending before the Supreme Court. To this, the bench said the High Courts dealing with the matter will also give it the advantage of having their views on the matter.