While people protest across the entire nation against the CAA, the Supreme Court is all set to hear over 140 petitions on the new nationality commandment. Led by the Chief Justice SA Bobde, India’s apex court is hearing all the petitions and most of which claim for the law to be withdrawn.
The Supreme Court made it clear that it will not allow any stay on the Citizenship Amendment Act without hearing the Centre. The court also said that it might refer to the petitions challenging the authority of the Act to a larger Constitution bench.
All the petitions connected to Assam and Tripura will be taken up independently as the difficulty with CAA in these two states is quite different from rest of the country.
Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal recommended the court to put on stay the CAA and adjourn the National Population Register (NPR) for the time being. The NPR is seen to be a predecessor to the NRC (National Register of Citizens) and asks a person to provide birth documents, which has been closed in several states. The trial took place in a packed courtroom where even lawyers could not go through.
The Chief Justice Bobde said, “This matter is uppermost in everyone’s mind and because of the unmanageable crowd, we may hear some small matters in chambers and lawyers can come in chambers.” The Supreme Court has given four weeks to centre to act in response to CAA.
The government says it will help grant citizenship to persecuted minorities from three Muslim-majority nations – Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Critics, however, fear the law discriminates against Muslims and violates the secular principles of the constitution.
In a reaction to the Supreme Court hearing on CAA, the women protesters at Shaheen Bagh in New Delhi told News18, “The next hearing is 4 weeks later. We have at least another month of protests in front of us. One month, one year… protests will continue. We have faith in the judiciary.”
It is important to note that CAA is a citizenship law, which makes religion a criterion for Indian citizenship. Say, non-Muslim minorities from Muslim-majority countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan can become citizens easily if they prove that they fled religious persecution and entered India before December 31, 2014. Critics believe the CAA, along with the NRC or the citizen’s list, will be used to target the Muslim community, which is a minority in India.