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  India   All India  20 Mar 2024  CAA: SC Seeks Centre’s Reply, Posts on April 9

CAA: SC Seeks Centre’s Reply, Posts on April 9

Published : Mar 20, 2024, 2:07 am IST
Updated : Mar 20, 2024, 2:07 am IST

During the hearing, the Centre told the bench that the CAA does not take away the citizenship of any person

Supreme Court (PTI)
 Supreme Court (PTI)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Centre to respond within three weeks to applications seeking a stay on implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Rules 2024 till the disposal of the pleas challenging the constitutional validity of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 by the apex court.

The apex court, however, refused to stay the operation of the recently notified rules that operationalises the CAA, as pressed for by a battery of senior advocates representing the petitioners.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, also comprising Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, was hearing a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the petitioners sought a stay on the CAA Rules notified recently.

During the hearing, the Centre told the bench that the CAA does not take away the citizenship of any person.

The bench then issued notice to the Centre on the 20 applications seeking a stay on the implementation of the Rules returnable within three weeks.

“We are not expressing any prima facie view… We have to hear the petitioners, we have to hear the other side,” the bench observed and posted the matter for hearing on April 9.

The Centre had on March 11 notified the Rules to implement the CAA passed by Parliament in 2019 to fast-track Indian citizenship for undocumented non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who came to India before December 31, 2014.

Solicitor-general Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, said there are over 230 petitions in the matter, and after the rules came into force, 20 applications seeking stay have been filed.

“Just to satisfy your lordships’ conscience that there is no prejudice to the petitioners because none of the petitioners as such are affected parties, not that I am challenging the locus, it (CAA) does not take away citizenship of anyone. The law which they are seeking a stay of, does not take away the citizenship of any person,” Mr Mehta said, while seeking four weeks to respond to the applications.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising, representing the petitioners, said the Centre should make a statement that pending the hearing, no one will be given citizenship.

“They are entitled to tell us that give us a little time to file a counter. We may give them some time to file responses to the applications,” the bench said.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, also appearing for the petitioners, said: “The problem is, if any process of citizenship starts and somebody gets citizenship, then it would be impossible to reverse it for several reasons and these petitions will become infructuous. Therefore, that process should not start.”

Mr Sibal also contended that four weeks for filing a reply to the applications for stay was a lot of time.

Countering the solicitor-general’s contention that the petitioners would not be prejudiced if someone is granted or refused citizenship, Ms Jaising said: “That is not the issue. The issue is the constitutionality of law.”

One of the advocates asked if a Hindu individual, who was persecuted in Balochistan, has come to India prior to December 2014 and citizenship was granted to him here, how does it affect the right of anyone else?

To this, Ms Jaising said: “Because they will get the right to vote.”

After the bench said the matter would be heard on April 9, Ms Jaising said: "In the meantime, let them make a statement that they will not grant citizenship to anybody.”

On Ms Jaising’s assertion that the court can say that any citizenship granted pursuant to these rules will be subject to the outcome of this case, the bench said: “They (Union government) don’t even have the infrastructure (for granting citizenship under the new rules) in place.”

With the rollout of the rules to effectuate the CAA, in the run-up of the announcement of the Lok Sabha polls, the Centre kicked off the process of granting Indian citizenship to persecuted non-Muslim migrants -- Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians -- from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

The contentious CAA had sparked protests in various parts of the country in late 2019 and early 2020 over alleged discriminatory provisions and led to a clutch of petitions before the top court challenging its validity.

Tags: supreme court of india, citizenship amendment act (caa)
Location: India, Delhi