The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is a “colourable legislation”, the Kerala government said in a petition filed in the Supreme Court challenging the amended law on Tuesday.
Kerala has now become the first state to move the top court in the backdrop of nationwide protests against the religion-based CAA.
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.
“…in as much as there is a constitutional prohibition to make the said legislation in violation of the secular nature of the Constitution; but despite the same, the Legislature has enacted it. The same is the case with the Impugned Passport Rules and the Impugned Foreign Order Amendments,” said the petition.
The state government in its petition said the grouping of three countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, is not founded on any rational principle justifying separate special treatment for the irrationally chosen class of religious minorities facing persecution on the basis of religion there.
It further urged the apex court to pass a judgement declaring the law to be ultra vires the Constitution and void.
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.
The top court is already seized of the matter with more than 60 petitions challenging the law. A hearing on the matter is scheduled on January 22.
On December 18, a bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices B.R. Gavai and Surya Kant refused to grant a stay on the implementation of the law and listed the matter for further hearing in January. The court issued notice to the Centre. All the matters will be heard together by the apex court on January 22.
According to the amended law, non-Muslims who fled religious persecution in Muslim-dominated neighbours Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh will be given Indian citizenship if they entered the country before 2015.
This is first such law that has made religion a criterion for obtaining citizenship.
States of West Bengal, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi, Punjab, Chhattisgarh have announced that they will not implement either the National Register of Citizens (NRC) or the Citizenship Amendment Act.