Supreme Court Decision on CAA-CAB Hearing, Next hearing is after four weeks.
Supreme Court on Wednesday began hearing dozens of petitions seeking the revocation of amendments to the citizenship law following nationwide protests and a security crackdown that led to more than 20 deaths.
The Supreme Court would not grant a stay before hearing from the government, which has argued the law is a humanitarian gesture allowing citizenship for people fleeing religious persecution in Muslim-majority Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.
Chief Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde, the head of a three-judge panel, told the courtroom he will make a decision in four weeks after the government has replied to all of the petitions. He also asked a larger, five-judge constitutional panel to take part in the decision.
The law Parliament approved in December sparked vehement opposition. Protesters, political opponents, and constitutional lawyers have said it is discriminatory because it excludes Muslims.
The nationwide protests numbering in the tens of thousands appear to be the fiercest public criticism Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist-led government has faced.
Modi’s party has downplayed the protests as orchestrated by political opponents. His powerful Home Minister Amit Shah said the government will not retreat on the law.
“Those who want to protest may continue doing so,” Shah said Tuesday at a public rally in Lucknow.
Most of the petitions argue that by excluding Muslims, the law undermines the first sentence of the preamble to the Indian Constitution, which defines the country as secular, and violates Article 14, which guarantees equality before the law.
WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation; IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this 26th day of November 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.
“We believe the court will certainly take into consideration the views expressed by all these sections of people, and they will come to the conclusion that it is against the Constitution of India,” said petitioner K.M. Kader Mohideen.
Modi’s government and proponents of the changes say Muslim immigrants still could attain citizenship through the existing naturalization process.
“Because it is well-drafted legislation, with a specific purpose, for a specific group of people, there is really no problem on it passing the muster,” said Aishwarya Bhati, a senior advocate at the Supreme Court who supports the government’s move.
Those who oppose the law believe the government will argue it is not based on an immigrant’s religion, but on religious persecution in the three countries.
India has a vast, undocumented immigrant population among its 1.3 billion people, with many of them living in the country for generations.
In the northeastern state of Assam, the center of sometimes-violent opposition to immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh, the government last year said 1.9 million people had failed to prove their Indian citizenship.
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