Supreme Court Declines Stay on CAA Implementation

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Published on: March 20, 2024 at 09:00 IST

Supreme Court declined to stay the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The court has given the government three weeks, until April 8, to respond to 237 petitions challenging the law, which was notified just last week, days before the Lok Sabha election.

Senior lawyers Kapil Sibal and Indira Jaising, representing the petitioners, requested the court to allow them to approach if citizenship is granted to any individual before the given date. Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the government, did not make any statement regarding this.

Initially, Mr. Mehta had sought four weeks’ time to respond to the petitions, citing the need to file a detailed affidavit on merits for the large number of petitions involved.

The matter was heard by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra. The petitioners included the Indian Union Muslim League and opposition leaders Jairam Ramesh of the Congress and Mahua Moitra of the Trinamool.

The next hearing in this case has been scheduled for April 9.

The petitioners did not oppose the government’s request for more time but urged the court to order a stay on the implementation of the CAA, which they argued is discriminatory, particularly against the Muslim community.

In 2019, after the citizenship bill was cleared by Parliament, multiple challenges were filed. However, the court did not pause implementation as the rules had not been notified. Last week, Mr. Sibal argued that the situation had changed now since the rules have been notified.

Under the CAA, non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan fleeing religious persecution can seek citizenship. Opposition parties have criticized the timing of the law’s implementation, alleging it is designed to polarize elections, especially in West Bengal and Assam.

Trinamool leader Mamata Banerjee has raised doubts about the law’s legality and alleged a conspiracy to snatch citizenship rights, while the government has refuted these allegations.

Home Minister Amit Shah stressed that the CAA is not unconstitutional and accused the opposition of spreading lies. He clarified that the BJP had promised to bring the CAA and provide Indian citizenship to refugees in its 2019 manifesto, and the delay was due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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