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Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019: Where do law school students and alumni stand?

Rintu Mariam Biju

The recent passing of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) as law has prompted a wave of protests across the country. At the forefront of many of these protests have been students from various universities. And students and alumni of law schools have not shied away from expressing their opinions on the controversial legislation either.

So far, the majority of students and alumni of law schools have come out in support of the protests at Jamia Milia University and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). They have issued statements of solidarity pledging their unconditional support for the protesting students and condemning the CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Here is an inexhaustive list of the statements issued by students and alumni of law universities in relation to the CAA and the protests at Jamia and AMU so far.

Statement by student bodies of 8 NLUs – The first among others

The first statement of solidarity was jointly issued by the student bodies of NLSIU Bangalore, NALSAR Hyderabad, HNLU Raipur, NLU Odisha, NUSRL Ranchi, NUALS Kochi, MNLU Mumbai and MNLU Nagpur.

The joint statement condemned the violence and use of brute force against the protests organised by students of Jamia and AMU. The statement also emphasized the importance of dissent in a democratic environment and further noted that violence adopted by the local police was uncalled for and unwarranted.

Alumni of NLSIU, NUJS pledge support

A significant number of alumni from the National Law School of India University (NLSIU, Bangalore), the National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS, Kolkata) and the National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS, Kochi) later came out in support of the protesting students of Jamia and AMU, condemning the police attacks at the Universities in the wake of protests against the CAA.

Apart from the above, the NLSIU statement also put forth certain demands such as repeal of CAA and withdrawal of all police and paramilitary forces from university campuses, amongst others.

The NUJS alumni stated that “the collective impact of the CAA and NRC threatens the very fabric of India.

NUJS and NLSIU
NUJS and NLSIU

Students of NUJS, Amity Law, ILS Pune issue separate statements, condemn use of police force

Adding to the growing list of solidarity statements, three more law schools joined the line-up. The statement issued by NUJS read:

"We further strongly condemn the disproportionate and atrocious exercise of force by the police and extend our unconditional support to the students of these colleges and all other colleges in the exercise of their constitutional rights."
NUJS statement

The NUJS statement signed by its students also urged other law schools to come forward and pledge support to the students of JMI and AMU.

Similar statements were issued by Amity Law School and ILS Pune as well. The Amity Law school statement criticized the local police for use of tear gas and lathi charge against unarmed students.

The strongly-worded ILS Pune statement also laid emphasis on the right to protest and further observed that,

A vote is not a bargain for silence without dissent.”

Faculty of JGU issue statement of solidarity

Apart from the students, the faculty of Jindal Global University (JGU) issued a statement of solidarity condemning the recent police brutality at universities. The statement also sought to affirm the right of citizens to protest and the autonomy of universities as a non-militarized space for freedom of thought and expression.

88 members of the JGU faculty expressed their unconditional solidarity with the students, faculty and staff of Jamia and AMU, as well as with the CAA protestors.

NLU Delhi statement

The statement issued by students and alumni of NLU Delhi gives a factual account of all events that took place in connection with the CAA and NRC, and proceeds to state that that the CAA arbitrarily discriminates among ‘illegal migrants’ on the grounds of religion, country of origin, and date of entry into India. The statement also states that “in the garb of responding to the violence”, the Delhi Police aggravated the situation by firing bullets and shelling tear gas bombs at unarmed protesters.

The right to protest remains embedded in the Fundamental Rights under the Constitution of India, the statement reads. It concludes by strongly condemning the unwarranted use of force by the Delhi Police and Uttar Pradesh Police on university students.

NLU Delhi
NLU Delhi

Alumni students with the students of NUALS

A similar statement to the above was issued by over 430 alumni of NUALS, Kochi. The statement reads,

“We believe that the Act is unconstitutional not least because it is an under-inclusive law based on an unreasonable, irrelevant differentia contrary to the requirements in Article 14 of the Constitution of India. It is unconstitutional because it is a colorable legislation which instils in every Muslim citizen in the country - illegal migrant or not -a genuine, real, tangible fear that in this country, they would be subject to disabilities purely on account of their religion.”

NUALS Alumni Solidarity Statement

TNNLU Statement

Students and alumni of the Tamil Nadu National Law University (TNNLU, Trichy) also expressed their support for the anti-CAA protests. The statement condemns the continuous and systematic attacks on educational institutions as well as with the aggressive tactics of violence adopted by the Indian government. The statement further points out that the CAA is an attack on the secular values of the Constitution, which forms the core of the Indian democracy. In this regard, the statement further reads,

"The founders of the Indian Constitution out-rightly rejected the 'two nations theory' and struggled to build an India based on our collective identity as Indians rather than on any single religious identity. Basic humanity and morality dictates that we, as students and as members of the legal fraternity, join in this fight to preserve the dignity of the Indian Constitution and the values embedded within it by its framers."

TNNLS Statement of Solidarity

NLU Jodhpur joins the list

The alumni of NLU Jodhpur also condemned the actions of the police at Jamia, AMU and other Universities, and further expressed their solidarity with the protesting students. The statement further takes note of the actions resorted to by the government such as militarisation, police violence and communication shutdowns, as attempts to silence dissent of the citizens. The statement also reads that dissent is the backbone of a democracy and that freedom of speech is one of the most cherished rights in a diverse and inclusive society.

NLU Jodhpur
NLU Jodhpur

“We therefore stand in solidarity with the protestors and students at Jamia Milia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University, Dibrugarh University, Gauhati University, Cotton University, Assam, as well as students protesting the CAA,NRC and majoritarian thought in university campuses across India, and affirm the rights of peaceful assembly and the freedom of thought, speech and expression enshrined in the Constitution of India and various international human rights laws that bind India."

NLUJ Statement of Solidarity

Statement of Solidarity by current and former students of RGNUL

A statement has also been issued by a group of current and former students of Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law (RGNUL), Punjab in solidarity with the peaceful protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019. The statement asserts,

"The CAA flies in the face of our constitutional morality, not to say the least of its contraventions of constitutional provisions and guarantees. The CAA will in effect cause immense detriment to our secular notion of citizenship."

Protest has also been registered against the "abuse and brutality with which the Delhi Police has sought to violate the right of students to peacefully protest and express their disapproval of the CAA."

NLIU, Bhopal students in line with the other NLIUs

Certain students of National Law Institute University, Bhopal (NLIU) also have joined the series of NLUs and further has issued a statement of solidarity in support of the students of Jamia and AMU.

As students of the World’s largest democracy, we feel an unshakeable responsibility to speak up against how many innocent students are being subject to disproportionate violence, and offer our unconditional support of those merely exercising their right to freedom of speech and expression.

NLIU Statement of Solidarity

The NLIU statement also highlighted that the right to peaceful protest guaranteed by the Constitution must not be curtailed at any event.

NLIU Bhopal

International Support from US Universities

Besides Indian universities, students and alumni from US-based Universities have also come forward to condemn the recent spate of violence following the anti-CAA protests.

A joint statement issued by over 400 students from various universities across the United States, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Stanford and Tufts, states that the entry of police and paramilitary into university premises and the indiscriminate attacks within the premises of universities can only shock the conscience of any democratic society.

The statement further condemned the use of violence against protesters in Assam and well as the internet shutdown in the state. As a bold step, the statement further expressed concern over the manner in which these incidents were viewed by the Supreme Court of India.

CAA protests
CAA protests

The pro-CAA brigade

It is certain that the passing of the CAA has divided the people of India, with rallies and protests being conducted for and against the legislation. And law schools are no exception in this regard.

After a large group of students of ILS Pune issued statement of solidarity with the Jamia protests, a few students and alumni of the same University had issued a statement in support of the controversial CAA.

The statement claims that the Act has been grossly misinterpreted by many people.

"The Act has been grossly misinterpreted to those who have not read the Act in its entirety and those who do not have access to the Act. As educated people and law students/practitioners of India’s one of the most prestigious colleges, it is on us to educate the masses and correct the myths that are being circulated."
ILS Pune Statement in support of CAA (minority)

Similarly, a few students of National Law University, Odisha (NLU O) had also voiced their support of CAA.

As reported by Swarajya, there is also a fringe students of NUJS Kolkata who had come out in support of the CAA. The statement, signed by 75 students of the University, thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for enacting the “much needed” CAA, which provides relief to persecuted minorities from three neighboring countries.

In case we missed out the statement of your law school/college, please inform at info@barandbench.com.

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