Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Tuesday that only the Parliament, and not any state Assembly, has the right to pass any law regarding citizenship, PTI reported. Prasad’s remark came after the Kerala Assembly passed a resolution demanding that the Citizenship Amendment Act be repealed.
“The Citizenship Amendment Act does not relate to any citizen,” Prasad told reporters in Kerala. “CAA is perfectly constitutional and legal.” He alleged that “vested interests” have begun a disinformation campaign against the Act.
Answering another query, Prasad said that the National Population Register is merely a compendium of usual residents, and has nothing to do with citizens.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had moved the resolution against the Citizenship Amendment Act in the state Assembly earlier on Tuesday. While presenting the resolution, Vijayan said the amended law was against the secular outlook and fabric of the country and would lead to religion-based discrimination in granting citizenship. “The Act contradicts the basic values and principles of the Constitution,” he said.
Vijayan said India’s image in front of the international community has been dented, referring to the nationwide protests against the legislation. He told the Assembly that no detention centres for undocumented migrants will be set up in Kerala. The nationwide protests have so far resulted in 26 deaths, as a result of clashes between demonstrators and the police.
MLAs backed the resolution almost unanimously, with the exception of O Rajagopal, the only Bharatiya Janata Party member in the Assembly. He called it “illegal” as both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have passed the Citizenship Amendment Act.
On December 20, Kerala stopped all work connected to the National Population Register, which is described on the Census of India website as “the first step towards the creation of a National Register of Citizens”. On December 24, the Union government approved funds of Rs 3,900 crore for the National Population Register, which will be rolled out in April 2020. The same day, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said in an interview that the NPR has nothing to do with the National Register of Citizens.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims.
On the other hand, the National Register of Citizens is a proposed exercise meant to distinguish between genuine Indian citizens and undocumented migrants living in India. One such exercise, conducted earlier this year in Assam, led to the exclusion of 19 lakh people.