Supreme Court Hearing on CAA: 237 Petitions Before the Law; SC Asked Government for Response within 3 Weeks after March 19

A total of 237 petitions have been filed against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), demanding its repeal. Among these, 20 petitions specifically seek a legal injunction against the Act.

A bench comprising three justices of the Supreme Court is presiding over the hearing of these cases. Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud, Justice J.B. Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Mishra are among those involved in the proceedings. The most recent hearing for these cases took place on March 19th.

Subsequently, the court had issued a notice to the central government. The government was instructed to submit its response within three weeks. The bench emphasized that the government should file its affidavit by April 8th.

Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) Implemented Nationwide on March 11

On March 11, the Central Government issued a notification for the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) across the country. With this, the Act came into effect nationwide. According to this law, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians fleeing from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan will be eligible for Indian citizenship.

Several organizations and political leaders, including the Indian Union Muslim League, Assam Congress leader Debabrata Saikia, Assam Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad, Democratic Youth Federation of India, and Social Democratic Party of India, have filed petitions challenging the Act.

What is Required to Obtain Citizenship under CAA?

The government has streamlined the entire process online. Applicants need to declare their year of entry into India if they did so without proper documentation. They will have to prove that they hail from Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Bangladesh. For this, they need to submit their passport, birth certificate, school certificate, or any locally issued identification document.

A committee will make decisions on citizenship applications. This committee will include representatives from the census department, Intelligence Bureau (IB), Foreigners Regional Registration Office, Post Office, and State Information Officer. Initially, applications will be processed by the district committee. Subsequently, they will be forwarded to the Empowered Committee.

In January 2019, the Joint Parliamentary Committee stated in its report that until December 31, 2014, a total of 31,313 non-Muslims from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh had sought refuge in India. This means that these 31,313 individuals will be eligible for citizenship under this law.

Furthermore, Hindu refugees from the Matua community in West Bengal who arrived from Bangladesh will also qualify for citizenship. Their population is estimated to be around 3-4 crore. Their influence is significant on 10 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal.

Who Opposes the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and Why?

The CAA, introduced in 2019, sparked opposition soon after its enactment. From Shaheen Bagh in Delhi to Assam, violent protests ensued, resulting in loss of lives. The opposition to the CAA came from two main groups:

Firstly, the people of the northeastern states, including Assam, fear an increase in the number of migrants settling in their region after the implementation of this law. They are concerned that the influx of outsiders will lead to a loss of cultural and linguistic diversity in the northeastern states.

Secondly, people from other parts of India oppose the CAA because it excludes Muslim refugees. Under this law, all non-Muslim refugees from the three specified countries are eligible for citizenship, while Muslims are not included. Critics argue that this discriminates against the Muslim community, which goes against the principles of equality.

Opponents allege that the Act particularly targets the Muslim community, and they argue that it violates Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees equality before the law.

Why Are Muslims Excluded from CAA?

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has stated that the central government introduced the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) to provide relief to persecuted minority communities from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. 

Muslims are not included in the CAA because, according to the BJP, they are not minority communities in these countries; rather, they constitute the majority. This is why they are not covered under the provisions of the CAA.

Niyati Rao

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