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The Supreme Court today issued notice in all 60 petitions challenging the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019. The matter is scheduled to be taken up on January 22, 2020, after the Supreme Court reopens following the winter break.
The three-judge Bench comprising of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices BR Gavai and Suryakant, however, declined to grant a stay on the operation of the Act in the meanwhile.
A battery of lawyers present in the Court sought to make submissions on the issue of staying the Act. However, it was brought to the Court’s notice that the question of stay does not arise at the point given that the rules and guidelines have not yet been notified.
In light of the same, the Court said that it will not pass orders on stay and will take up the matter in January.
Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay’s plea in the matter seeks wide publication of the details, aims, and objectives of the Act through media. Upadhyay claimed that the people were protesting against the Act without being aware of the details.
CJI Bobde sought Attorney General KK Venugopal’s thoughts on this request. The AG told the Court that the needful can be done and no Court order is required for the same.
A number of petitions were triggered by the express exclusion of Muslim beneficiaries from the purview of the Amendment, which has been challenged as violative of Articles 14, 21 and 25 of the Constitution apart from being against the basic principles of secularism.
Some of the petitions challenge the Amendment citing violation of the Assam Accord of 1985, which had been introduced to control illegal immigration in Assam.
Two days after the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 received assent in the Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha has also signed off on the legislation on December 11. A day later, the first challenge to the controversial legislation was mounted by the Indian Union of Muslim league along with Members of Parliament PK Kunhalikutty, ET Mohammed Basheer, Abdul Wahab and K Navas Kani. At this stage, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was yet to received Presidential assent. Hours after it was signed off by the President, a battery of PILs were filed challenging the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019.
The in-exhausive list of petitioners who have approached the top Court on the issue from various quarters include TMC MP Mahua Moitra; Pradyot Deb Burman; the All Assam Students Union, INC MP Jairam Ramesh; various public servants including former High Commissioner Deb Mukherjee and former IAS officers, Somasundar Burra and Amitabha Pande; Assam MLAs Debabrata Saikia(Leader of Opposition) and Rupjyoti Kurmi along with Abdul Khaleque, a Loksabha MP from Assam; RihaiManch and Citizens Against Hate; Fazil Ahmed of the Jan Adhikar Party; the Peace Party; Advocate Ehtesham Hasmi; Lok Sabha MP Asaduddin Owaisi and Lok Sabha MP TN Prathapan; the Makkal Needhi Maiam(MNM); Padi Richo, former MLA and a resident of Arunachal Pradesh; the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK); activists and academics, Harsh Mander, Aruna Roy, Nihil Dey, Irfaan Habib and Prabhat Patnaik and the DYFI.