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SC refuses to stay Citizenship Act, Assam-Tripura matters segregated, bars HCs from hearing pleas on law
TIWN Jan 22, 2020
SC refuses to stay Citizenship Act, Assam-Tripura matters segregated, bars HCs from hearing pleas on law
PHOTO : Supreme Court of India. TIWN File Photo.

AGARTALA, Jan 22 (TIWN): The Supreme Court today refused to put on hold the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), which is at the core of nationwide protests, and gave the Centre four weeks to respond to petitions on the law, making it clear that it would not grant any stay without hearing the government. The court also said a five-judge constitution bench will give an interim order on some 140 petitions on the law.The Supreme Court also restrained all High Courts from hearing petitions on the CAA before it decided on those pleas.Petitions linked to Assam and Tripura will be taken up separately as the problem with CAA in these two states is different from rest of the country, said the three judges.A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde is hearing 143 petitions, mostly challenging the validity of the CAA. Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, told the judges that the government had been given copies of around 60 of those petitions. He requested time to respond to the rest.

Royal scion Pradyot Manikya who was the petitioner from Tripura against CAB has welcomed the order of Supreme Court of India. Supreme Court order's 5 points he cleared :

1. A Five (5)Judge Constitution bench will be formed.
2. Four (4) weeks time is given to the GOI to file their reply to the petitions.
3. In the 5th week from today, either this bench or the constitutional bench will take interim measures.
4. The matter of Assam and Tripura will be heard first and separately.
5. The Supreme Court expects that, at present, the GOI will not take any measures for implementation of this Act.

Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal urged the court to defer the implementation of National Population Register (NPR) for the time being.

The citizenship law, which makes religion a criterion for Indian citizenship, says non-Muslim minorities from Muslim-majority countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan can become citizens easily if they fled religious persecution and entered India before December 31, 2014. Critics believe the CAA, along with the NRC or citizen's list, will be used to target Muslims.

The NPR, which is seen to be a precursor to the NRC and asks people to produce birth documents, has been stopped in many states.

The petitions argue that the new law is illegal and violates the basic secular structure of the Constitution as it makes religion the basis of Indian citizenship. The petitioners include political parties like the Congress, DMK, CPI, CPM, Indian Union Muslim League or IUML, Asaduddin Owaisi's All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and Kamal Hassan's Makkal Needhi Maiam.

The hearing took place in a packed courtroom where even lawyers could not enter.

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