The Rajasthan government on Monday challenged the validity of the Citizenship Amendment Act in the Supreme Court saying that it violated the “principle of secularism” and fundamental rights to equality and life, Live Law reported. Rajasthan became the second state after Kerala to challenge the new citizenship law that sparked massive protests across the nation.
“Pass a judgement and decree that the Citizenship [Amendment] Act, 2019 is violative of Article 14 [right to equality] and Article 21 [right to life] of the Constitution of India as well as violative of basic structure principle of secularism,” the petition stated, according to PTI. “Thus Act 47 of 2019 [Citizenship Amendment Act] be declared as void under Article 13 of the Constitution.”
The state government’s petition added that if a legislation discriminated on the basis of religion, it “cannot be termed as a reasonable classification based on an intelligible differentia”. The state government filed its suit under Article 131 of the Constitution, according to which the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction to the exclusion of other courts in cases between states and Centre or between states.
Rajasthan’s plea added that the Citizenship Amendment Act is selective in picking religion and countries. “This pick and choose based on irrational criteria of particular religion from a particular place of origin, cannot muster the core principles of equal protection of laws guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution,” it said.
Besides the Citizenship Amendment Act, the plea also challenged the Passport (Entry to India) Amendment Rules, 2015 and Foreigners (Amendment) Order 2015. The orders granted protection to refugees – Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians – who entered the country before December 31, 2014, from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh but excluded Muslims. The plea has highlighted that they were based on the criteria of religion, and were therefore unreasonable and discriminatory.
States’ action against CAA, NPR and NRC
Left-ruled Kerala filed the anti-Citizenship plea in the Supreme Court on January 14. The suit had also challenged the validity of the Passport (Entry to India) Amendment Rules 2015 and the Foreigners (Amendment) Order 2015, which regularised the stay of non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan if they had entered India before 2015 and if they fled due to religious persecution.
Congress-ruled Rajasthan had passed a resolution against the Citizenship Amendment Act in January, the third state to do so after Kerala and Punjab. Later West Bengal and Telangana also passed resolutions to withdraw the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has repeatedly demanded that the government revoke the controversial law. He had even accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah of causing “turmoil and unrest” in the country with an ill-thought out Citizenship Amendment Act, National Register of Citizens and the National Population Register.
On February 23, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said that NPR will not be implemented in the state in its new form, but only according to its 2010 format. He had also asserted that NRC would not be implemented under his administration.
Last week, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-led Tamil Nadu government, which is an ally of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre, said it had not begun work on the population register. The administration said it would do so only after the Centre clarified certain aspects of the exercise, assuaging fears of minority communities. On March 13, the Delhi Assembly passed a resolution against the NPR exercise, claiming it would also impact the majority population.
The Citizenship Amendment Act guarantees 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, that excludes Muslims, has been criticized as being discriminatory.