Photo Credit: The Indian Express.

SC adjourns hearing of PIL questioning competence of state assemblies to pass resolutions against CAA, Farm Laws

THE Supreme Court Friday adjourned the hearing of a petition challenging the jurisdiction of state assemblies to pass resolutions against central laws such as the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and three Farm Laws.

A three-judge bench led by the Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde directed the matter to be listed after four weeks. It verbally asked the counsel for the petitioner, senior advocate Soumya Chakraborty, to do research on certain aspects such as whether state legislative assemblies can be treated as “persons” or “citizens”.

It also sought to know from the petitioner-Samta Andolan Samiti- whether there had been any precedent of interpreting a rule of the Kerala Legislative Assembly that required no discussion on a subject matter pending before the court.

This observation came to be made by the bench when the petitioner pointed out that Kerala Legislative Assembly had passed a resolution against the CAA even though a batch of petitions challenging the said Act was pending in the Supreme Court.

During the hearing, CJI SA Bobde observed that the resolution of the Kerala assembly was an opinion of the majority of members of the assembly. It did not have any force as such. If the resolution had said not to follow the law, the situation would have been different. The resolution had simply requested Parliament to abrogate the CAA.

However, senior advocate Chakraborty, for the petitioner, vehemently contended that state assemblies had no power whatsoever to comment or dwell on a subject matter in the Central list.

CJI Bobde said “we do not want create more problem than solving” before adjourning the matter without issuing the notice.

After the recent enactment of the three farm laws, many non-BJP governments passed resolutions against those statutes.

In the aftermath of the enactment of CAA in 2019, several non-BJP ruled states such as Rajasthan, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Punjab, Kerala etc., had passed resolutions in their state assemblies against it, describing it as being against secularism for singling out the Muslim community from benefiting from it.

The CAA provides that any person belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian faith from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan will not be treated as illegal migrants for the purposes of Citizenship Act, 1955, thereby extending an opportunity for the grant of citizenship to select minority communities of select neighbouring nations.

Though it has been more than a year since the CAA was enacted, the centre is yet to frame rules under the Act to administer it.