Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 22
In a setback to anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protesters, the Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay the operation of the CAA and the National Population Register (NPR).
A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde--on a transfer petition by the Central government--restrained all high courts from passing any orders on CAA.
The CJI indicated that ultimately a five-judge Bench might have to decide the petitions on CAA.
But before that the three-judge Bench headed by the CJI will work out a schedule in the chamber for hearing the cases.
The Centre has been given four weeks to respond to the petitions. The Bench will assemble in the fifth week to pass interim orders.
On Tuesday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had said the law will not be scrapped despite the protests over it.
“I want to say that irrespective of the protests it will not be withdrawn,” he added.
The Bench decided to segregate anti-CAA petitions with regard to Assam and Tripura from the rest of the petitions.
Assam’s problem with CAA is different from the rest of the country as the earlier cut-off date for citizenship was March 24, 1971, which under the CAA is now December 31, 2014, it noted.
The CJI was miffed at overcrowding of the court number 1 as senior lawyers had a difficult time in entering the courtroom to make their submissions.
The CJI said some sort of crowd management system would have to be put in place.
Earlier, senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Rajeev Dhavan and others sought stay on CAA and NPR.
But Attorney General KK Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta vehemently opposed it.
Notified on January 10, the CAA relaxes norms for grant of Indian citizenship by naturalisation to Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist, Jain and Parsi victims of religious persecution from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who came to India before December 31, 2014.
Around 20 people were killed in Uttar Pradesh and dozens injured in the state and elsewhere, including Delhi, in violent protests against the CAA.
The court has already issued notice to the Centre on petitions against the CAA. The petitioners contended that grant of citizenship on the basis of religion was against the basic structure of the Constitution.
Notified by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs on July 31, 2019, the National Population Register (NPR) exercise is to commence from April 2020 along with the first phase of Census 2021.
The exercise is conducted under Rule 4 of Citizenship Rules which provides for collection of data for NPR which is a list of usual residents of the country.
It lists people who have resided in a local area for the past six months or more or those who intend to reside in that area for the next six months or more.
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