Extending his support to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, whose government passed a resolution against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Punjab CM Amarinder Singh said that the amended law is a potential “national security threat”.
Taking exception to the remarks made by Union Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Singh expressed concern that the CAA can be easily misused for infiltrating into the country, particularly in border states like Punjab.
In a letter to the Union Law Union Minister, he stated that as the Chief Minister of a border state he has a grave concern regarding security.
“Since the CAA has no requirement of being of Indian origin of having to prove any such origins, this means that any person claiming to be of the six religions could simply apply in terms of the amended law, prove entry on/before the cut-off date and be eligible for citizenship. This could in fact be misused for infiltration into our country, particularly in the border states, converting the misguided legislation into a national security threat,” he wrote in his letter.
Suggesting that the CAA is unconstitutional, serious Congress leader said: “As the leader of the state, I took my oath under the Constitution. I’m neither naive nor misguided and it’s my duty to represent the voice of my people and Centre must pay heed to same. As the law minister, you’d know that CAA fails the test of the Constitution.”
Referring to Prasad’s suggestion to Kerala to “seek appropriate legal advice” before announcing the rejection of the CAA, Amarinder said: “We have done so. While you aggressively defend the CAA by insisting that only Parliament under Article 245 has the legislative power to pass laws as regards citizenship, and not the state governments, I am afraid you have entirely missed the point of the resolution passed by the Kerala Assembly.”
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also pointed out that the Kerala Assembly had not passed a citizenship law but only urged Parliament to amend the CAA, which only the Parliament can.
He further argued that “the very fabric of the Constitution requires secular conduct.” “This is the very foundation of the Constitution which you are asking the states to abide by.”
Singh also insisted that the CAA had failed the test of Article 14, which ensures equality and pointed to the widespread fear caused by confusing signals on the NRC.
“The fear that laws can be mutilated, shredded and discarded overnight to suit political objectives is naturally a legitimate concern of many right-minded citizens of our country.”
In response to the Punjab CM’s letter, Prasad tweeted: “U r a senior, seasoned & informed leader who fought for India as an Army officer earlier. Both centre & states have to work together to keep India safe & secure & also give shelter to those persecuted for their faith. This is the glorious tradition of India (sic)”.
He further quoted Articles 245, 246, 256 of the Constitution which “clearly enjoins that Parliament has Constitutional power to pass laws for the entire country and it is the duty of every state to act in a manner to ensure compliance. Similarly, states can also pass laws for the states”.
“As a well-informed leader surely you will recall the public commitment of Gandhi Ji, Nehru Ji, Dr Rajendra Prasad Ji, Sardar Patel Ji and many other leaders about the need to give respect and shelter the persecuted minorities of Pakistan from which Bangladesh was created later,” he further said.
“Surely, you would recall the wise decision of Smt. Indira Gandhi to give citizenship to the uprooted and persecuted Hindus of Uganda under the regime of dictator Idi Amin and also citizenship granted to victimised Tamil people of Sri Lanka.” the minister added.
In a major development, Kerala Assembly on Tuesday passed a resolution demanding the withdrawal of the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Following this, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the law is perfectly legal and constitutional and is bound to be implemented in the entire country.
Speaking to reporters in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday, Prasad said Parliament has powers to pass a law with regard to subjects under the Seventh Schedule, and this is not in the domain of a state Assembly.
“Citizenship, naturalization and aliens are entry 17 on the Union list. Therefore, it is only the Parliament that has the power to pass any law with regards to citizenship, and not any Assembly, including Kerala,” he said.
In a rather sarcastic tone, the Union minister further insisted that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan should get better legal advice on the issue.