Photo Credit: The Indian Express.

Supreme Court seeks Union government’s response to petitions against CAA

The court fixed October 31 as the next date of listing of the case.


THE Supreme Court earlier today directed the Union of India to file its reply to the batch of petitions challenging the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (‘CAA’). It also directed the government to respond to petitions which are specific to Assam and Tripura in the context of the challenge to the CAA.

As many as 200 petitions were listed for consideration today.

A bench comprising the Chief Justice of India U.U. Lalit and Justice S. Ravindra Bhat also directed the Assam government to file its reply to the petitions challenging the CAA as being violative of the Assam Accord of 1985 and the cultural rights of the Assamese. This came after senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for one of the petitioners concerning Assam, informed the court that notice was issued to the Assam government, but it returned the service of the petition.

The bench took note of the order passed by the court on January 22, 2020, directing the registry to list matters under the head of two categories, that is, one category of matters pertaining to Assam and Tripura, and the other category of matters pertaining to the rest of the country.

The bench thus directed that the office of the Solicitor General of India shall prepare a complete list of the matters pertaining to these challenges and then the same should be put in different compartments depending upon the challenge in individual petitions, and thereafter, appropriate reply depending upon the segments is to be filed by the Union Government.

Many of the petitions challenged the CAA for being violative of Articles 14, 21 and 25 of the Constitution, and for being against the basic principles of secularism.

Some of the petitions challenged the CAA for being against the Assam Accord, which was brought to control the illegal immigrants in Assam.

Also read: Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019: Discord with the Accord

The CAA was passed in the Lok Sabha on December 9 and in the Rajya Sabha on December 11, and received the Presidential assent on December 12, 2019. It amended the six-decade-old Citizenship Act, 1955 and would bring two major changes: one, illegal migrants of six religions, namely: Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan will be eligible for citizenship in India, and two, the Union Government will have the power to cancel the registration of Overseas Citizen of India card holders if they violate any law. The CAA excludes Muslims from these countries for getting benefit of the Amendment.

Although the Assam Accord underlines that illegal migrants having entered the state of Assam on or after March 25, 1971, shall continue to be detected, deleted and expelled in accordance with law and that immediate and practical steps shall be taken to expel such foreigners, the CAA provides that any proceeding pending against persons who are seeking the benefit of the amendment, with regard to illegal migration or citizenship, shall stand abated. This is seen as contrary to Assam Accord, which was duly incorporated in the Citizenship Act.

Click here to read the order.