Updated on 20 February, 2020
A three-judge Bench did not pay heed to fervent pleas to even postpone the process of collecting population data to identify illegal migrants or doubtful citizens on the basis of their religion.
- The court indicated that the CAA challenge may eventually be referred to a Constitution Bench for a decision on the merits.
Petitions before the court
- A total of 144 petitions were listed before the Bench that also comprised Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna.
- Lawyers argued that the National Population Register (NPR) exercise is commencing in April and the data collected through it would be used for preparing a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC).
- The NPR-NRC is considered a harbinger of the facilitator for the operation of the CAA, which fast-tracks the citizenship-by-naturalization process for “illegal migrants” from six religious communities, other than Muslims, who have fled persecution from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.
- Importance to N-E pleas: The court indicated that it would give due importance to petitions concerning the impact of CAA in border States such as Assam and Tripura.
Most immediate concerns
- Executive enjoying sweeping powers: The sweeping powers given to executive authorities to brand people as ‘doubtful citizens’. Once this is done, there are no guidelines to help these people.
- Will manipulate electoral rolls: It will lead to manipulating electoral rolls. The concern is spread across both the majority of Hindus and minorities as well.
- U.P. government’s move: According to senior advocates the Uttar Pradesh government had already marked people as doubtful citizens and the process of granting citizenship under CAA is already underway.
- Citizenship once granted can’t be revoked: Indian citizenship once granted cannot be revoked if the challenge to the CAA succeeded in court.
- Against the principles of secularism: The petitions argued that a law that welcomed illegal migrants into India selectively on the basis of their religion was against the principles of secularism, right to equality and dignity of life enshrined in the Basic Structure of the Constitution.
- Proof of illegal migration is not asked: The act did not impose any requirements on illegal migrants to prove their claim of religious persecution or even a reasonable fear of it.
- The government has maintained that the amendments made to the Citizenship Act of 1955 were meant to protect and welcome religiously persecuted people fleeing the three neighboring countries where Muslims form the majority.
- The court gave the government four weeks to file its response. The government urged the court to freeze the number of petitions filed in the case.