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CAA doesn’t violate basic rights, Centre tells SC

New Delhi: The Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 does not violate any fundamental right.

The central government, in its 129-page affidavit in response to the pleas challenging the constitutional validity of CAA, termed the legislation legal and asserted that there was no question of it violating constitutional morality.

It also said CAA does not confer any arbitrary and unguided powers on the executive as the citizenship to the persecuted minorities of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh would be granted in a manner as specified under the law governing grant

of citizenship.

The affidavit has been filed by B C Joshi, director in the ministry of

home affairs.

The SC  on December 18 last year had decided to examine the constitutional validity of the CAA but had refused to stay its operation.

The newly-amended law seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim migrants belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Jain and Parsi communities who came to the country from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan on or before

December 31, 2014.

The Indian Union Muslim League, one of the petitioners out of over 100 pleas which have challenged the CAA, has said in its plea that it violates the fundamental right to equality and intends to grant citizenship to a section of illegal immigrants by making an exclusion on the basis of religion.

A bench, comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant, had earlier issued notice to the Centre and sought its response on the batch of pleas, including those filed by the IUML and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, challenging

the CAA.

The bench had also agreed to the submission of lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay that common people should be made aware about the aim, objects and the contents of the CAA and had asked Attorney General K K Venugopal, representing the Centre, to consider using audio-visual medium to make citizens aware of the legislation.

The plea by IUML, filed through advocate Pallavi Pratap, has sought an interim stay on the operation of CAB and the Foreigner Amendment (Order), 2015 and Passport (Entry Into Rules), Amendment Rules, 2015.

The petition has alleged that the government’s CAB was against the basic structure of the Constitution and intended to explicitly discriminate against Muslims as the Act extended benefits only to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis

and Christians.

The plea filed by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, has said that the Act is a “brazen attack” on core fundamental rights envisaged under the Constitution and treats “equals as unequal”.

In his petition, Ramesh has said that substantial questions of law, including whether religion can be a factor to either acquire or deny citizenship in India, arises for consideration of the court as it is a “patently unconstitutional” amendment to the Citizenship

Act, 1955.

“The impugned Act creates two classifications, viz, classification on basis of religion and the classification on the basis of geography and both the classifications are completely unreasonable…” the plea has said.

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