The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) on Thursday moved the Supreme Court against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) 2019 a day after it was passed by the Rajya Sabha.
In the plea, IUML argues the law violated the basic and fundamental value of the Indian Constitution that “all should be treated equally alike” and should be struck down as unconstitutional. The petitioners clarified that they are aggrieved by granting of citizenship to one section of illegal immigrants by making exclusion on the basis of religion. The petitioners include prominent IUML leaders and MPs such as P.K. Kunhalikutty, E.T. Mohammed Basheer, Abdul Wahab and K. Navas Kani.
The IUML is the first political party from the opposition to move the Supreme Court. More Opposition parties are expected to move the Supreme Court against the Bill, which ostensibly bestows the benefit of Indian citizenship by naturalisation to illegal immigrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, except Muslims.
The petition said the Bill flagrantly “discriminates” against religiously persecuted Muslim immigrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
“Article 14 of the Indian Constitution envisages that ‘all should be treated equally alike’, wherein it implies that the law should give equal treatment for all ... If the object of the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 is to protect the ‘minorities who faced religious persecution in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh’, then the Ahmaddiyya and Shia sect among these countries are entitled to equal treatment for the benefit of the law. It is well-documented that the sect discrimination within religion exists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Therefore, the extension of benefit of the Act to the religious minority such as Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, but denying the same to Ahmaddiyya and Shia sect within these countries is unable to satisfy the objective sought to be achieved, which is protection of minorities facing religious persecution in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh,” the petition, filed by advocates Haris Beeran and Pallavi Pratap, said.
They have sought that the Supreme Court strike down the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 for violation of the fundamental right to equality under Article 14.
“The Preamble of our Constitution envisages that India is a secular country and therefore every law which is passed by the Parliament has to be religion neutral. No law can be passed by the Parliament if the basis of such a law is religion. That strikes at the root of the concept of secularism which is the basic structure of the Constitution. The present Amendment Act excludes a particular community/ religion... This is not only unreasonable but against the principles enunciated under Article 14 of the Constitution,” the petition said.
The petition said the citizenship law did not explain as to why migrants from other neighbouring countries such as Sri Lanka, Bhutan (both have Buddhism as their State religion), Nepal (State religion Hinduism) had not been included.
“Sri Lanka has had a history of persecution of Tamil minorities, a linguistic minority. Similarly, India shares approximately1,600-km-long border with Myanmar (considerably more than the border India shares with Afghanistan), which has dominated the news for primarily a genocide and persecution of Rohingya Muslims. Over the years, there have been reports of both Tamil minorities and Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution from their respective countries and seeking refuge in India. Legislative intent does not match the legislation,” the petition said.