UN High Commissioner for Human Rights moves Supreme Court over CAA, India expresses displeasure

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]HE United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) has filed an intervention application in the Supreme Court of India over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. This has been informed by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) which was informed of this development by Permanent Mission in Geneva yesterday evening.




Taking strong exception to the UNHCR’s intervention, the Government of India has said “the Citizenship Amendment Act is an internal matter of India and concerns the sovereign right of the Indian Parliament to make laws. We strongly believe that no foreign party has any locus standi on issues pertaining to India’s sovereignty”.

It adds, “we are clear that the CAA is constitutionally valid and complies with all requirements of our constitutional values. It is reflective of our long-standing national commitment in respect of human rights issues arising from the tragedy of the Partition of India”.

“India is a democratic country governed by the rule of law. We all have utmost respect for and full trust in our independent judiciary. We are confident that our sound and legally sustainable position would be vindicated by the Hon’ble Supreme Court”, says Government of India in its statement.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act passed by Parliament in December last year sparked protests across the country. The CAA seeks to grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, Jains and Parsis — it leaves out Muslims — who entered the country from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan until December 31, 2014. Since the enactment of this Act, various states in including Bengal, Bihar, Punjab, Kerala have passed resolutions against CAA.

On December 13, 2019, the Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights had issued a statement expressing concerns at  India’s new Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 which, according to UNHCR, is fundamentally discriminatory in nature.

“The amended law would appear to undermine the commitment to equality before the law enshrined in India’s constitution and India’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, to which Indian is a State party, which prohibit discrimination based on racial, ethnic or religious grounds.  Although India’s broader naturalization laws remain in place, these amendments will have a discriminatory effect on people’s access to nationality”, said UNHCR.



The Supreme Court is currently seized of the batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the CAA.