The Kerala state government has challenged the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act 2019. The state has become the first to challenge the litigious Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA and move the Supreme Court on Tuesday. The appeal affirms that the CAA infringes the fundamental right to equality under Article 14 of the Constitution of India, right to life under Article 21 and liberty to practice religion under Article 25 of the Indian Constitution.
Additionally, the petition states that the CAA is prejudiced as it covers only a class of minorities from a class of countries who are sharing international borders with India, from where there has been trans-border immigration. It further adds that the CAA includes only certain religious minorities of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and clearly overlooks other allegedly ill-treated religious minorities and divisions such as Ahmaddiyas, Shias and Hazaras.
Kerala government’s petition states that “While the Hindus from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh are covered by the Impugned Amendment Act, the defendant did not consider the issues of the Hindus, primarily of Tamil descend, in Sri Lanka and Hindu Madhesis in Terai of Nepal, whose ancestors migrated to Sri Lanka and Nepal respectively in the eighteenth Century from the then British India.”
The government argues that if the objective of CAA is to protect the minorities who faced religious persecution in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, then, the Ahmaddiyas and Shias from these countries are also entitled to same treatment extended to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities. The ruling CPI(M)-led LDF and Congress-headed UDF opposition came jointly to pass the decision at a special conference of the House.
As of now, about 60 petitions have been filed by individuals and different political parties challenging the authority of CAA, and all of these are pending before the top court and are likely to be heard on January 22, 2020. The Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who has been at the front lines of opposing the regulation, had also written to 11 chief ministers to oppose the CAA collectively. The plaint, filed through the standing Counsel GP Prakash and settled by the Senior Advocate Jaideep Gupta, terms the Amendment and the associated regulations and orders as “manifestly arbitrary, unreasonable, irrational and violative of fundamental rights.”
State of Kerala (petitioner) states, “The religious classification brought forth violates the twin test of classification under Article 14, the protection of which is not limited or restricted to Citizens alone and extends to all persons. There is no rationale in not extending the rights conferred to a class of minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to religious minorities belonging to the said countries of Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan.”
Last month, the Supreme Court had issued a notice in a batch of 60 petitions challenging the different aspects of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019. The apex court is due to hear these petitions on January 22nd.