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SC to hear CAA challenges today: Know where it stands now, what are the challenges

SC to hear CAA challenges today: Know where it stands now, what are the challenges

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will hear a batch of pleas challenging the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act today. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice U U Lalit will hear whether the Act violates Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.

The BJP government passed the Citizenship Amendment Act guarantees Indian citizenship to migrants who are belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who are, particularly, being persecuted in countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan.

Though the government described the amendment as' sympathetic and inclusionary', the pleas in the Supreme Court called the Act discriminatory for excluding the Muslim community from the list.

The Supreme Court will hear the petitions filed against the Act by politicians like Asaduddin Owaisi, Jairam Ramesh, Ramesh Chennithala, and Mahua Moitra, and political parties such as the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, and the Asom Gana Parishad.

It is the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) that lead the challenge in the apex court.

Where does the case stand now?

The IUML sought an interim stay order from the court against a direction from the Union government, on May 28, 2021, giving the authority to district collectors of the 13 districts where the density of migrants is higher to accept citizenship applications.

The Court has not taken up the case since the Centre filed a counter-response.

What are the challenges of the Act?

The court primarily is said to be looking into the validity of the Act as against Article 14, to know whether the Act violates the Constitution in terms of providing protection to all irrespective of caste, creed and religion in the Indian territory or denying the right to equality before the law.

The Supreme Court has a mechanism to test whether Article 14 has been violated. The first one is that the Act should pass whether the differentiation between groups of persons was based on 'intelligible differentia' and the second is that the "differentia must have a rational nexus to the object sought to be achieved by the Act".

If the Act intends to govern a class of people, it has to satisfy the condition under Article 14 that is it has to prove the validity of the classification or 'intelligible differentia'. The primary challenge to the CAA is whether the Act is discriminatory in terms of naming a few religions and excluding the Muslim community.

If the protection of persecuted minorities from mainly three neighbouring Muslim countries were alone the aim of the Law, the exclusion of other neighbouring countries and the exclusion of the Muslim community would be a challenge to the law.

What can be expected in the Court proceedings?

The taking up of pleas challenging the CAA indicates that the apex court will likely to fast-track the hearing. Petitioners can also apply for the pleas to be referred to a larger Constitution Bench. However, the challenge is to a statute and does not directly involve interpretation of the Constitution.

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TAGS:Citizenship Amendment ActCitizenship Act
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