Muslim League moves SC to challenge Centre’s notification on citizenship of non-Muslim refugees

Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) has moved the Apex Court challenging Centre's notification making it possible for persons

New Delhi: Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) has moved the Apex Court challenging Centre’s notification making it possible for persons residing in certain districts who are belonging to minority communities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, to apply for Indian citizenship.

The Indian Union Muslim League has averred that in its plea challenging the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, the Centre had earlier submitted that staying of the Amendment Act was not necessary since the rules of the Amendment Act had not been framed.

However, the IA filed by the Indian Union Muslim League through Advocates Haris Beeran and Pallavi Pratap states:

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“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 mala fide designs envisaged under the Amendment Act through the recently issued order dated 28.5.2021.”

It may be noted that IUML was the first party to approach the apex court against CAA, even before the Act received the Presidential assent.

IUML has also challenged Order 3A of the Foreigners Order 1948 and Rule 4(ha) of the Passport (Entry into India) Rules, 1950 as void, for being in violation of Articles 14, 15 and 21 and the basic structure of the Constitution for discriminating among persons on the basis of their faith and religion.

Further averments in the IA

The plea states that during the pendency of the writ petition, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Union of India has gone ahead and issued the order dated 28.5.2021 which is manifestly illegal and runs counter to the provisions of the Act, as well as the Constitution on the following grounds:

  • Whilst Section 5 (1)(a)-(g) of the Act lays down in unequivocal terms the persons who are eligible to apply for citizenship by registration, Section 6 of the Act permits any person (not being an illegal migrant) to apply for citizenship by naturalisation.

“Therefore, the attempt being made by the Respondent Union in whittling down the applicability of the two provisions through an executive order is illegal,” the IA states.

  • That the two provisions read together do not permit the classification of applicants on the ground of religion and therefore the order goes beyond what is permitted by the provision itself.
  • Furthermore, the order does not withstand the test of Article 14 inasmuch as it treats people within a particular class i.e. persons entitled to apply for citizenship by registration and naturalisation unequally by virtue of their religion.

Lastly, the plea argues that if the said Order is implemented and citizenship is given to persons on the basis of their religion, and, thereafter, if the Court strikes down the Amendment Act and rules, then, to take back the citizenship of these persons, granted pursuant to the present Order, will be a herculean task and would be near impossible to implement

It may be noted that under the May 28, 2021 order the Collectors of the districts of – (i) Morbi, Rajkot, Patan and Vadodara in the State of Gujarat ; (ii) Durg and Balodabazar in the State of Chhattisgarh ; (iii) Jalore, Udaipur, Pali, Barmer and Sirohi in the State of Rajasthan ; (iv) Faridabad in the State of Haryana; and (v) Jalandhar in the State of Punjab; Have been empowered to exercise the powers of the Central Government under Section 5 (for registration as a citizen of India or for grant of certificate of naturalisation under section 6.

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