BY : Aparna Rajesh
The Citizenship Amendment Act was passed by both the Houses of the Parliament and then cleared by the President igniting a wide range of protests throughout the country. The Act provides the refuge seeking migrants from the neighboring countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The Act allows the minorities from these countries to gain Indian citizenship. But the Act is discriminatory against the Muslim community. It allows citizenship only to the Hindus, Christians, Parsis, Buddhists and Jains completely avoiding the Muslims making the Act stand against the secular principles laid in the Constitution. The international community, comprising the various human rights organisations, has condemned India passing the Bill and demands the country to withdraw the discriminatory act.
The CAA has also led to widespread protests across the country. The student community and the opposition parties were all active demanding the government to strike down the Act citing its discriminatory nature. The BJP led government gives out the justification that Muslims are less likely to face persecution in Muslim majority countries. Also, people question the reason for avoiding refugees from Sri Lanka and Myanmar. The North-East is affected in different dimension as they fear that the migrants would cripple them of their opportunities.
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CURRENT ISSUE :
The Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) and its office bearers have moved the Supreme Court against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019. The petitioners have requested the Supreme Court to consider their plea which calls for striking down the Citizenship Amendment Act and urged the court to ask the Central government to back off from the preparation of National Register of Citizens (NRC) until the plea is considered. Like the others who protest against this Act, these petitioners from the APCR also, inn the plea, describes the bill to be biased in nature and holds the view that it is against the spirit of the basic principles laid down in the Constitution. The petitions contains that the Act is religiously determined. Also, it tells how the CAA categorizes the migrants into two: one as those who are from the three specific countries and two, as those from the other neighboring countries based on who are facing persecution. It doesn’t take into account those who could be the victims of the same. The petition also suggests that the Citizenship Amendment Act didn’t take into account the minority sect of Muslims in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who are also facing different forms of persecution in these countries.
QUESTION OF LAW :
The petition, as afore mentioned, is of the matter that forms the subject of many petitions to which the Supreme Court has issued notice to. But what makes this petitions different is that it points out how the Section3 (1) of the Citizenship Act, 1955 is unconstitutional. It also criticized the Act for not laying down the parameters for the people who cross the borders. According to this Section, the people entering India is categorized into three: Children born in India between January 26, 1950 and July 1, 1987; those born after July 1, 1987 and December 3, 2004; and those born after December 3, 2004. Here, the first category requires no conditions for attaining citizenship and the children belonging to the second and the third categories will face different treatment based on their date of birth. If they fail this category, then they will not be granted citizenship and also will not be considered as illegal migrants. The petition also throws light on how the Act hence violates the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1990 which India has also signed. India is obliged to follow the international norms to which the country has committed to and the petition reminds the same. The Act is violative of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1990 and the UN Convention on the reduction of statelessness, 1961 and also it is against the Article 50 (c) of the Constitution which makes it necessary for the State to respect its obligations under international laws and treaties.
The Citizenship Amendment Act has been widely criticised by people throughout the country and many states also rejected it. The government is neither ready to withdraw the Act nor is it ready to make changes in it. This plea given by the Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) has brought into light a new dimension to the criticisms against the CAA. The bill is against the international agreements to which the India has signed. The Indian Parliament should seriously consider all aspects, national and international, while making such kinds of laws. With a number of organisations and citizens protesting against the Act, the government must seriously consider the need for rewriting the Act. Also, the Republic of India, with international reputation of being the most diverse country, should keep in mind its international commitments while dealing with its internal matters.