The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave the Indian Union Muslim League two weeks to respond to its petition challenging the Centre’s May 28 notification allowing members of minority communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to apply for citizenship, Live Law reported.

Appearing before a vacation bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian, advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the IUML, sought two weeks time to respond to the counter affidavit filed by the Centre. The court adjourned the matter by two weeks.

In its response, the Ministry of Home Affairs had said that the notification allowing collectors of 13 districts in Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab to grant citizenship to non-Muslims was not related to the Citizenship Amendment Act.

It also clarified that the notification only seeks to delegate powers of the Union government to the local authorities in particular cases. The government added the notification did not give any relaxations to the foreigners and is only applicable to those that have entered the country legally.

The Citizenship Amendment Act, passed in December 2019, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities, except Muslims, provided they have lived in India for six years, and entered the country by December 31, 2014. Across the country, protests had broken out against the law, which is seen as an assault on secular values inscribed in the Constitution.

On June 1, the IUML had moved the Supreme Court against the notification. In its petition, it said that the home ministry had told the Supreme Court not to stay the Citizenship Amendment Act as it had yet not framed the rules. The IUML contended that last month’s notification was an attempt to go around this submission to the Supreme Court.

The petition added that if the applicants are granted citizenship and the Supreme Court strikes down CAA, it would be a “herculean task” and “near impossible” to take back the citizenships given.

In 2018, the Centre had granted similar powers to collectors and home secretaries of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi with regard to certain districts.