CAA a specific amendment to address persecution based on religion in certain countries: Center informs Supreme Court

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In the case related to the challenge of the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019, the Supreme Court had recently issued a number of instructions for the completion of procedural formalities in the case and decided to hear the case today for further instructions .

The central government has informed the Supreme Court that the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) is a specific amendment that aims to address the persecution of minorities based on religion in certain countries.

“…the CAA is a specific amendment that seeks to address a specific problem occurring in the specified countries, namely, persecution on the basis of religion in light of the undisputed theocratic constitutional position in the specified countries, the systematic functioning of such states and the perception of fear that may prevail among minorities according to the actual situation in the said countries,” the affidavit reads.

The Supreme Court has further been informed that Parliament, after taking note of the said issues over the past seven decades and taking into account the recognized class of minorities in three specific countries, has issued the CAA.

The Supreme Court holds that immigration policy and in particular citizenship is the executive policy of the sovereign that is reflected in the competent legislation. policies of a state and by extension affect the security apparatus of the state and would fall directly within the domain of parliament.

The national government has further argued that the constitutionality of such a legislative measure must be assessed within the legislative domain and cannot be aggregated beyond that aim.

Filed by Sumant Singh, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, the affidavit states that CAA is a benign piece of legislation intended to provide an easing, in the nature of an amnesty, to specific communities from the specified countries with a clear end date.

The treatment to be given to the classified communities in the neighboring countries has attracted the attention of successive governments, but no government took any legislative action and only recognized the problem and took some administrative action through executive instructions on issues related access, residence and citizenship of these classified communities, the court has been told.

It is further argued that CAA is without prejudice to any existing law that may have existed prior to the entry into force of the amendment and further seeks, in no way, to affect the legal, democratic or secular rights of any of the Indian citizens.

The Supreme Court has been informed that legal migration, based on valid documents and visas, is still allowed from all countries of the world, including from the three specified countries.

As for the CAA’s challenge for violating Section 14, the affidavit states that classification under the contested legislation is not new and that there are numerous central laws that are limited in their territorial application.

The Center’s reply adds that the Court would consider exercising its powers of judicial review, as such review would be highly restrictive and limited given the broader breadth of legislative policy and the legislative wisdom available to the competent legislator.

“… the legislative policy making in certain subjects and the wider scope of question available to the competent legislator in such matters has been recognized by the courts around the world that cannot be examined by the touchstone of Article 14 of the Constitution and that also in a jurisdiction of public interest,” the Center added

CAA, passed on December 12, 2019, amends Section 2 of the Citizenship Act of 1955, which defines “illegal migrants”. Now persons belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian communities from neighboring Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan will not be treated as “illegal migrants” and will be eligible to apply for citizenship under the law of 1955.

As a result, more than 200 petitions have been filed against the introduction of the Amendment Act in 2019, which have been adopted by the Supreme Court. Notices in the pleadings were issued in January 2020, but the case could not go to trial.

Last month, the Supreme Court had noted that it will refer pleas against the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA) to a three-judge bench. The court added that more instructions on the case will be issued on October 31, i.e. today.

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