The exercise of granting citizenship to illegal migrants on the basis of their religion has already started under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) of 2019. The Supreme Court has to intervene and immediately stay the implementation of the Act before it is too late, Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) party urged the court on Thursday.
Just three days after the government notified the implementation of the CAA on January 10, the Uttar Pradesh government promptly sent a list of 40,000 illegal migrants for grant of citizenship.
“It would be in the interest of justice to stay the operation of the Amendment Act. It has come into force. State of Uttar Pradesh’s prompt action to collect the data of non-Muslim illegal migrants shows that exercise of granting citizenship under the CAA is already under way,” said the application filed by advocates Haris Beeran and Pallavi Pratap.
Letting the CAA continue in operation till the Supreme Court delivered a final judgment would render the cause ‘fait accompli’ as citizenship once granted could not be withdrawn, the application contended.
The IUML, which forms part of the United Democratic Front in Kerala, was the first off the block among Opposition political parties to challenge the CAA after it was passed by the Rajya Sabha, saying the law violated the basic and fundamental value of the Indian Constitution that “all should be treated equally alike” and should be struck down as unconstitutional.
The applications have been filed shortly after Kerala’s Left Democratic Front government led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan filed an original suit in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the CAA. The State has seen political parties on opposite sides of the spectrum come together to resist the CAA.
The CAA ostensibly bestows the benefit of Indian citizenship by naturalisation to illegal immigrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh to persons who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, except Muslims.
In a separate application, the IUML said conflicting statements made within the government, including those of the Prime Minister and Home Minister, had bred confusion on the conduct of the nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The application said the government should come clear on whether pan-India NRC would be implemented or not. The government should clarify whether the National Population Register (NPR) was linked to the NRC. If the government was going ahead with the exercise, the UML said, the Supreme Court should stay both the NPR and the NRC exercises. The Kerala government had already stalled the preparation of the NPR in the State, suspecting that its data might be used for the NRC.
The application drew the court’s attention to the NRC’s “unconstitutional, unlawful and inhumane effects” in Assam. The Assam NRC, significantly, was monitored by the Supreme Court.
The application said Section 14A of the Citizenship Act was added in 2004. The particular provision did not mandate an NRC to be conducted nationwide. The Section only sought identification of citizens in the border States where the problem of illegal migrants occurred. The rest of the country did not face any such problems, the IUML said.
Further, Section 14A(2) of the Act specifies that conduct of the NRC was not compulsory.
The Supreme Court has scheduled the hearing of over 60 writ petitions challenging the CAA on January 22.