The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear the petitions challenging the recent amendments to the Citizenship Act on December 18, Live Law reported. A clutch of petitions have been filed in the top court challenging various aspects of the law that relaxed conditions for non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to get Indian citizenship.
Congress MP Jairam Ramesh said he had requested the top court to urgently hear the matter. Ramesh had moved the court on Friday.
“Given the urgent situation that has developed around the rushed and insidious Citizenship Amendment Act, I approached the honourable Supreme Court to hear my matter urgently,” he tweeted. “The honourable judges have agreed to list my challenge to the same on Wednesday ie day after tomorrow.”
Ramesh said the Act had created an “unconstitutional exclusionary regime” and treats “equals as unequal”. “The impugned Act creates two classifications, viz, classification on basis of religion and the classification on the basis of geography and both the classifications are completely unreasonable and share no rational nexus to the object of the impugned Act ie, to provide shelter, safety and citizenship to communities who in their native country are facing persecution on grounds of religion,” read this petition.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen President Asaduddin Owaisi had moved the top court on Saturday “to preserve plural, secular constitutional democracy”.
Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra had also moved the top court on Friday, challenging the amendments’ constitutional validity, a day after the amended law was challenged by the Indian Union Muslim League.
The petitions said the Act meant to provide “benefits” to immigrants fleeing religious persecution would end up dividing them on the basis of faith and nationality of origin. There is widespread fear in the North East that populations defined as indigenous to the region would be culturally and physically overrun by migrants as a result of this law’s provisions. Elsewhere in India, the bill has been opposed due to the religious criterion for citizenship.
The protests against the legislation have swept campuses across India. On Sunday, the protests erupted after a police crackdown at Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi, and Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh. The police have been accused of using excessive force. On Monday, several Delhi University students were reportedly beaten by the police and detained.
Follow our live blog on the political fallout of the Citizenship Act across India.