Wednesday, January 22, 2020

SC’s mandate to decide legality of citizenship act not decide constitutionality: CJI

Straight Line News Network

JAMMU, Jan 9: A petition seeking stern action against those opposing Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) today drew ire of Chief Justice of India S.A.Bobde who said that endeavour must be to bring peace at this juncture and petition of this nature would lead to causing more agitations and does not help in the endeavour to restore peace.

At a time when the country is going through critical phase, the endeavour must be to bring peace, Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said today with reference to the nationwide protests in relation to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The comment from the Chief Justice came when Advocate Vineet Dhanda mentioned a petition filed by Puneet Kaur Dhandawhich sought for stern action to be taken against those persons involved in spreading “misinformation” regarding the CAA

CJI Bobde, who is on the Bench with Justices B.R.Gavai and Surya Kant, said that petitions of this nature lead to causing more agitations and do not help in the endeavour to restore peace. Supreme Court said it would hear petitions on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) only after violence stopped. Lawyer Vineet Dhanda had petitioned the Supreme Court to declare the Citizenship Act constitutional and take stern action against activists, students, media houses spreading false rumours on the law.

“How can we declare that an Act passed by the Parliament is constitutional? There is always a presumption of constitutionality. If you had been a student of law at some point time, you should know,” responded the Chief Justice. “This court’s job is to determine validity of a law and not declare it as constitutional,” said the three-judge bench that includes justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant.

“The country is going through critical times. The endeavour should be for peace. Such petitions don’t help,” Chief Justice Bobde asserted amid nationwide protests against the new law, which makes religion the criteria for Indian citizenship for the first time. “As such there is so much of violence,” the judges said. The petitioner had also asked the court to direct the centre to clarify that the Act is not against the spirit of the constitution and is in no sense against any citizen of India.

Protests have swept across the country, especially college campuses, against the Citizenship Act. The government says the citizenship law will help non-Muslim minorities from three Muslim-dominated countries – Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh – to become Indian citizens easily if they fled to India before 2015 because of religious persecution. But critics fear the CAA discriminates against Muslims and violates the secular principles of the constitution. Over 60 petitions on the law – mostly challenging its validity – have been filed in the Supreme Court.

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