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Sun. Oct 2nd, 2022
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NEW DELHI: As a clutch of petitions challenging constitutional validity of the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act and subsequent Rules has been pending for over two-and-half years with no effective hearing, the Supreme Court on Monday decided to fast-track the proceedings and asked the counsel appearing for both the sides to come out with a “road map” for conducting the hearing on over 250 petitions.
The petitions were filed in 2019 by different people from various walks of life challenging the amendment and the apex court had issued notice on December 18, 2019. But in the last two-and-half years, the cases were listed only four times with no effective hearing. The petitions were last taken up on June 15, 2021.
In view of multiple petitions filed in the case, a bench of Chief Justice U U Lalit and Justice S Ravindra Bhat said many issues have been raised in these petitions and they needed to be segregated so that the court could proceed in a systematic manner. It said the preliminary exercise needed to be done so that hearing could take place smoothly and requested Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to get it done.
Considering the importance of the case, the bench said it would be heard by a three judge bench after the categorisation of the petition is done and asked the lawyers appearing for the petitioners and the Centre to come out with a road map on how to proceed in the case.
The court also issued notice to the Centre on all fresh petitions filed pertaining to CAA and posted the case for direction to October 31. In the meantime, it asked the Centre to file response within a month. As issues faced by Assam and other North-East states are different from other states, the court said it would examine whether those cases should be separated from other petitions. Some petitioners have pleaded that their plea on linking CAA with Assam NRC ought to be heard separately.
Petitioners in the case include Congress MP Jairam Ramesh, the Indian Union Muslim League, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, TMC MP Mahua Moitra , All Assam Students’ Union and and others. They approached the court after the amendment was passed and came into effect on January 10, 2020. They pleaded that it was a brazen attack on the core constitutional values and must be set aside.
The amendment makes migrants eligible for citizenship if they (a) belong to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian communities, and (b) are from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan. It only applies to migrants who entered India on or before December 31, 2014.
The petitioners also contend that CAA violates Article 14 (equality before law), which guarantees equal protection of the laws to any person, and not just citizens. They also challenged two classifications of the new Act — one that identifies six communities but leaves out Muslims, and the second that applies to persons from just three countries.

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