The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a notice to the Centre asking it to reply by January 22 to all 60 petitions challenging the Citizenship Amendment Act, Live Law reported. The court will hear the pleas next on January 22.

A clutch of petitions were filed in the top court challenging various aspects of the law that relaxed conditions for migrants of six non-Muslim communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to get Indian citizenship.

One of the petitions was filed by Congress MP Jairam Ramesh, who 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, 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.

One petition was filed by five activists and academics – Harsh Mander, Aruna Roy, Nihil Dey, Irfan Habib and Prabhat Patnaik – and another by the Democratic Youth Federation of India.

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.