The Union government on May 28 issued a notification allowing non-Muslim minorities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who are presently residing in parts of India, to apply for citizenship.

MLA PK Kunhalikutty
news Court Tuesday, June 01, 2021 - 14:24

The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), an ally of the Congress-helmed United Democratic Front, has moved Supreme Court against the Union government’s recent notification inviting citizenship applications from non-Muslim refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who are currently in India. The plea, filed by IUML leader PK Kunhalikutty, former Member of Parliament and Member of the Legislative Assembly in Kerala, criticised the Union government for issuing such a notification even though a case related to the same is pending in the Supreme Court. The case pertains to the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), which introduced the clause to offer citizenship to non-Muslim minorities in countries neighbouring India.

It was on May 28 that the Union government issued the notification, allowing non-Muslim refugees (Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians) from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, now residing in parts of India, to apply for citizenship. These people are living in the districts of Morbi, Rajkot, Patan and Vadodara of Gujarat; Durg and Balodabazar in Chhattisgarh; Jalore, Udaipur, Pali, Barmer and Sirohi in Rajasthan; and Faridabad in Haryana and Jalandhar in Punjab. The notification has been issued under Section 16 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 (57 of 1955). According to reports, Collectors of the districts are conferred with the power to give citizenship to the people based on their application.

Slamming this move, IUML’s Kunhalikutty MLA and former MP said that his plea is challenging “the concept of granting citizenship to persons on the basis of religion” that was introduced via the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019. “The said act is against Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution and violative of the basic structure of the Constitution. And for such reasons is pending adjudication before this Hon’ble Court.”

Kunhalikutty also said that the Union government had earlier given an assurance in the Supreme Court saying that there is no need to stay the Act as the rules inscribed in it have not been framed, but the Union government’s "intention behind the notification is the same as that of implementing the CAA."

“The Respondent Union, in a roundabout way, and in an attempt to circumvent the assurance given to this Hon’ble Court, have sought to implement their malafide designs envisaged under the Amendment Act through the recently issued order dated 28.5.2021,” the plea said. “Even if the Supreme Court later strikes down CAA, it will be a herculean task to take back the citizenship of those people, once citizenship is given to persons on the basis of their religion,” the plea added.

IUML also asked the Union government to halt any further proceedings on the notification as the writ against it is pending in the court.

The plea has asked the court to “pass orders directing the Respondent Union to stay any further proceedings pursuant to the said Order dated 28.5.2021 issued by the Union of India, Ministry of Home Affairs till such time the present writ is pending before this Hon’ble Court; and pass any other order/s as deem fit and proper to meet the ends of justice.”

Left parties, including the CPI(M), had earlier called that the Union government's notification a "backdoor entry of the CAA."

Read:

CAA in 'clear violation' of Indian Constitution and intl human rights law: Amnesty

Watch: What is CAA and how is it linked to NPR, NRC? Lawyer Gautam Bhatia explains

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