• Kerala Government challenges CAA in Supreme Court

    Newsclick Report

    January 14, 2020

    New Delhi: Amid widespread protests across the country, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala has moved the Supreme Court challenging the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), and has sought it be declared as violative of the Constitution of India.

    Becoming the first state government in the country to challenge CAA, the Kerala government has sought to declare it as violative of Articles 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, as well as against the basic principle of secularism enshrined in it, according to news agency PTI.

    The suit, filed through standing counsel GP Prakash, and settled by Senior Advocate Jaideep Gupta, terms the Amendment, and allied rules and orders as "manifestly arbitrary, unreasonable, irrational and violative of fundamental rights,” according to a report in Bar & Bench.

    “The crux of the objection registered by the State of Kerala to the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 concerns the restriction of its benefit to only the prescribed six religious minorities i.e. Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan,” said the report.

    The Kerala government has also pleaded that extending such a benefit based on the religious identity of an individual amounts to a violation of secular principles, which form part of the Indian Constitution’s basic structure.

    It also said that there was “no rationale” in curbing citizenship benefits to religious minorities in three countries alone, citing the persecuted minorities in countries, such as Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Bhutan.

    According to Bar & Bench, the Kerala government’s complaint has been filed invoking Article 131 of the Constitution to challenge the validity of CAA, which the Kerala government “asserts is maintainable in view of the law laid down in State of Jharkhand v. State of Bihar and Another (2015).”

    Article 131 gives the apex court original jurisdiction in any dispute between the government of India and a state government, insofar as the dispute “involves any question (whether of law or fact) on which existence or extent of a legal right depends,”, as per a report in Live Law.

    “The plaint has been so filed arguing the State of Kerala will otherwise be compelled to implement the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, bringing into question the enforcement of the rights of inhabitants in Kerala,” the report said.

    It may be recalled that on December 31, the LDF government in Kerala, led by Pinarayi Vijayan, had passed a resolution in the Assembly, backed by the Congress-led United Democratic Front, against CAA. The state government also stayed preparatory work on the National Population of Register, which in the ‘chronology’ stated by Home Minister Amit Shah, is a precursor to implementation of the NRC or National Register of Citizens across the country.

    Around 60 petitions challenging various aspects of the contentious CAA have been filed in the Supreme Court. Last month, the apex court had issued a notice in this regard and is slated to hear the batch of petitions in January 22.

    First published in Newsclick.

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