State governments have no powers to reject the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 as the legislation was enacted under the Union List of the 7th Schedule of the Constitution, a top official said on Friday.
The statement came after chief ministers of five states — West Bengal, Punjab, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh — refused to implement the law while terming it as “unconstitutional”.
“The states have no powers to deny implementation of a central law which is in the Union List,” the top home ministry official was quoted as saying by PTI.
Amid protests over the Citizenship Act in the northeast, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said she would not allow its implementation in the state “under any circumstances”.
Lashing out at the BJP-led central government over the amended Citizenship Act, Banerjee, who is also TMC chief, said the saffron party can’t bulldoze the states to implement the law.
“We will never allow the NRC exercise and Citizenship Act in Bengal. We will not implement the amended Act, even though it has been passed in Parliament. The BJP can’t just bulldoze the states to implement it,” Banerjee said.
“The Citizenship Act will divide India. As long as we are in power, not a single person in the state will have to leave the country,” the chief minister added.
Meanwhile, the Trinamool Congress has announced a mega rally against the law on December 16 in Kolkata. CM Mamata Banerjee will participate in the rally which is said to begin near the statue of Dr BR Ambedkar and end at Jorasanko in the state’s capital.
Terming the Citizenship Act as a “direct assault on India’s secular character”, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday said his government would not allow the legislation to be implemented in his state.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said his state will not accept the law while terming it as “unconstitutional”.
The Kerala government further accused the Centre of trying to “divide India on religious lines” and claimed that it is “a move to sabotage equality and secularism”.
Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh governments have also indicated that they would not implement the law, but officially they said they would back the position taken by the Congress high command.
President Ram Nath Kovind, in a late Thursday night order, gave his assent to The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, letting it become an Act allowing Indian citizenship to six non-Muslim minority migrants facing religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
According to the Act, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, till December 31, 2014, facing religious persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.
The passing of the Citizenship Bill in the Parliament has plunged the northeast, especially the states of Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya into deep chaos with locals and students hitting the streets in thousands in protest.
The indigenous people of the northeastern states are worried that the entry of these people will endanger their identity and livelihood.