Expressing his displeasure over allegedly not being informed of the Kerala government’s decision to move the Supreme Court against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), Governor Arif Mohammad Khan on Thursday stated that he is “not just a rubber stamp”.
Slamming the Pinarayi Vijayan government over the move, he said, “This is a breach of protocol and breach of courtesy”.
“There is a legal maxim, neither I nor anyone is above the law. Clearly I am not against anyone approaching the judiciary. But, with me being the Constitutional head of the state, they (the state government) should have informed me about it, but I came to know through the newspapers. Some people here, think they are above law. Clearly, I am not just a rubber stamp,” he told reporters.
“But the common courtesy demanded that prior permission be taken from me… at least I should have been kept in the loop,” he added.
Governor Arif Mohammad also said that he will check whether the state government can go to the apex court without the approval of the Governor.
“I will look into it whether the state government can go to the SC without the approval of the Governor. If not the approval, they could have just informed me,” the Kerala governor said.
Kerala has become the first state to move the top court against the CAA.
The Kerala government had, in a petition, on Tuesday challenged the constitutional validity of the amended law.
The plea by the Kerala government states that the “Act violates Article 14, 21 and 25 of the Constitution of India, as well as is against the basic principle of secularism.”
The plea has also challenged the validity of changes made in 2015 to the Passport law and the Foreigners (Amendment) Order, for regularising the stay of non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who had entered India before 2015.
It further urged the apex court to pass a judgement declaring the law to be ultra vires the Constitution and void.
Further, reacting to the media after reports surfaced that he refused to sign an ordinance approved by the Kerala cabinet to increase the number of members in local bodies, the governor said: “I make it very clear that the Constitution does not expect me to be a rubber stamp. I have to apply my own mind. I will need time to go through what the ordinance is all about. With the assembly session soon to be convened what was the need. I have raised some questions and I need to get the answers and after that, I will apply my mind. I never said I will not sign it.”
In reply to a question that the government will return it to him if he won’t sign, Khan shot back, “who said so, there is nothing like that.”
Khan, of late, has been putting his foot down and has taken a tough position in the manner the Pinarayi Vijayan government has been taking positions on the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The Kerala Assembly had on December 31, 2019, passed a resolution demanding the withdrawal of the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who moved the resolution, said the CAA was against the “secular” outlook and fabric of the country and would lead to religion-based discrimination in granting citizenship.
Reacting on the development, Governor Khan had maintained that the resolution has no validity.
“Citizenship Act is purely a Central subject and moreover, in Kerala, there is no issue of any illegal migrants. Hence, this resolution passed by the Assembly has no Constitutional or legal validity,” Khan had told reporters.