No stay on Citizenship Act without hearing Centre, says Supreme Court

Published: Jan 22, 2020, 11:33 IST | PTI | New Delhi

The SC said it may refer pleas challenging the validity of the Act to a larger Constitution bench.

This image has been used for representational purposes only.
This image has been used for representational purposes only.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday made it clear that it will not grant any stay on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) without hearing the Centre and said it may refer pleas challenging the validity of the Act to a larger Constitution bench.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde is hearing a batch of 143 pleas challenging the validity of CAA, including those filed by the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh. Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, told the bench that the government has been given copies of around 60 pleas out of the 143 petitions. He said it wanted time to respond to pleas which have not been served on it.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal urged the bench to put on hold operation of CAA and postpone exercise of the National Population Register (NPR) for the time being. The court said it will not grant any stay on CAA without hearing the Centre on the matter.

The CAA seeks to grant citizenship to 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. President Ram Nath Kovind gave assent to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on December 12, turning it into an Act.

The IUML submitted in its plea that CAA 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.

The plea filed by Congress leader Ramesh, said the Act is a "brazen attack" on core fundamental rights envisaged under the Constitution and treats "equals as unequal". Several petitions have been filed challenging the constitutional validity of the CAA, including by RJD leader Manoj Jha, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi.

Several other petitioners include Muslim body Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, All Assam Students Union (AASU), Peace Party, CPI, NGOs 'Rihai Manch' and Citizens Against Hate, advocate M L Sharma, and law students have also approached the apex court challenging the Act.

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