- Apprentice Lawyer
In an important development, the State of Kerala has filed an original suit against the Union of India in the Supreme Court, challenging the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.
The plaintiff has prayed that the Supreme Court declare the Amendment as violative of Articles 14, 21 and 25 of the Constitution of India as well as violative of the basic structure principle of secularism enshrined therein.
The plaint, filed through standing counsel GP Prakash, and settled by Senior Advocate Jaideep Gupta, terms the Amendment, and allied rules and orders as "manifestly arbitrary, unreasonable, irrational and violative of fundamental rights."
The crux of the objection registered by the State of Kerala to the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 concerns the restriction of its benefit to only the prescribed six religious minorities i.e. Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
The plaintiff has contended that extending such a benefit based on the religious identity of the individual amounts to a violation of secular principles, which form part of the Indian Constitution’s basic structure.
"The Impugned Amendment Act, the Impugned Passport Rules and the Impugned Foreign Order Amendments are class legislations harping, interalia, on the religious identity of an individual, thereby contravening the principles of secularism, which has been recognised repeatedly by this Honourable Court as a basic structure of the Constitution … It is trite and settled law that a legislation discriminating on the basis of an intrinsic and core trait of an individual cannot form a reasonable classification based on an intelligible differentia.
The plaintiff goes on to contend that there is also no rationale in restricting the benefit to the religious minorities prescribed in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan alone, while ignoring persecuted minorities in countries such as Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Bhutan.
“The Impugned Amendment Act and Rules and Orders are bereft of any standard principle or norm in discriminating migrants from other countries such as Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Bhutan, which are sharing international borders with India and to which and from which there has been trans-border migration.
State of Kerala (plaintiff)
The plaintiff adds, inter alia,
"The Impugned Amendment Act in question is a colourable legislation; in as much as there is a constitutional prohibition to makes the said legislation in violation of the secular nature of the Constitution; but despite the same, the Legislature has enacted it. The same is the case with the Impugned Passport Rules and the 'Impugned Foreign Order Amendments.'"
The plaint has been filed invoking Article 131 of the Constitution of India to challenge the validity of the Central legislation, which the State of Kerala asserts is maintainable in view of the law laid down in State of Jharkhand v. State of Bihar and Another (2015).
The plaint has been so filed arguing the State of Kerala will otherwise be compelled to implement the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, bringing into question the enforcement of the rights of inhabitants in Kerala.
"In accordance with the mandate of Article 256 of the Constitution, the Plaintiff State will be compelled to ensure compliance of Impugned Amendment Act and the Rules and Orders, which are manifestly arbitrary, unreasonable, irrational and violative of fundamental rights.
State of Kerala (plaintiff)
Last month, the Supreme Court had issued notice in a batch of 60 petitions filed challenging various aspects of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019. The Supreme Court is due to hear these petitions on January 22.
[Read the Plaint]