Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra and Congress MP Jairam Ramesh on Friday moved the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of the amendments made to the Citizenship Act, hours after the bill received Presidential assent.
Moitra’s plea was listed for an urgent hearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, but the court asked her counsel to approach the mentioning officer, PTI reported. The counsel requested the top court to list the plea either during the day or on December 16.
Ramesh’s petition claimed that the amendments were a brazen attack on the core fundamental rights envisaged in the Constitution, Live Law reported. He said the amended law violates Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution. The plea said that the classification based on religion and geography made in the amendments was unreasonable.
The Indian Union Muslim League had moved the Supreme Court against the amendments on Thursday, while the Congress had said it will take the matter to the top court as well.
Late on Thursday night, the Union Law Ministry issued an official notification stating that President Ram Nath Kovind has given his assent to the bill. The amendment bill was passed in Parliament this week following lengthy debates and amid protests in the North East. The contentious law grants citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, provided they have resided in India for six years. The cut-off date is December 31, 2014. It explicitly excludes Muslims from three neighbouring countries from applying for Indian citizenship.
Two people were killed in Assam and 21 were injured as demands to withdraw the changes to the 1955 law were raised. The widespread fear in the North East is that populations defined as indigenous to the region will be culturally and physically overrun by migrants as a result of these changes.
The state administration had also imposed an indefinite curfew in Guwahati and Dibrugarh districts, and the towns of Tezpur and Dhekiajuli in Sonitpur district. The government extended by 48 hours the suspension of mobile internet and data services in the affected districts. The curfew was relaxed for five hours in Assam’s Dibrugarh district on Friday morning.