Indian SC to hear pleas challenging anti-Muslim citizenship law on Monday

New Delhi, September 09 (KMS): After a gap of over a year, the Indian Supreme Court will on Monday (Sep 12) take up a clutch of petitions challenging the validity of the anti-Muslim Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India Uday Umesh Lalit and S Ravindra Bhat will hear the batch of over a hundred connected petitions, questioning the validity of the controversial law on grounds of religious discrimination and arbitrariness. The petitions came up for a hearing before the Indian top court in June 2021.

The court had in January 2020 issued a notice to the Indian government on the petitions giving it four weeks to respond to the petitions but declined to stay the law. It had also restrained all high courts from hearing the pleas on CAA till it decides the matter.

The petitioners challenging the validity of the law include Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), and its MPs, Lok Sabha MP and All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) president Asaduddin Owaisi, Rashtriya Janata Party (RJD) leader Manoj Jha, Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Mahua Moitra, All Assam Students’ Union and Tripura royal scion Pradyot Kishore Deb Barman.

These pleas have contended that the law violates the right to equality and intends to grant citizenship to a section of illegal immigrants by making an exclusion on the basis of religion. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, in his petition, has contended that the law creates an “unconstitutional exclusionary regime” that treats “equals as unequal”. The IUML has urged the SC to declare the law unconstitutional, stating that it classifies immigrants as per religion and violates Articles 14 (equality before law), 15 (forbidding discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth) and 21 (right to life) of the Constitution.

In 2019, protests mainly spearheaded by Muslims erupted after the Indian Parliament approved the then Citizenship Amendment Bill. Many persons were killed after Indian police used brute force including direct firing to break up the protests at various places. The Bill was notified on December 12, 2019 and came into effect from January 10, 2020. The law is aimed at granting fast-track citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who came to India on or before December 31, 2014.

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