SC Issues Order To Centre On Citizenship (Amendment) Bill

INDIA’S Supreme Court on Wednesday sought response from the GOI on a plea challenging the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill ,2016, which is pending in  the Rajya Sabha after  approved by the Lok Sabha.The  bill seeks to provide citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Christians ,Parsis  and other  non –Muslims  who are compelled to leave their  homes in Afghanistan ,Bangladesh and Pakistan due to persecution and staying  in India  as refugees.  These are Muslim dominated states and hence, persons belonging to the Muslim community have been exempted from the purview of the bill. The Congress, TMC, RJD and some other political parties are opposed to the exclusion of Muslims from the benefit of provisions of the bill. The ruling parties in Assam and at the Centre have failed to convince the opposition as to how a person belonging to Muslim community can face discrimination to his or her faith in these Muslim nations. The provision of the bill is not Assam specific and the centre will have no power under the bill to grant citizenship to anybody. After scrutiny of an applicant, the state governments are proposed to be vested with power to grant citizenship, said GOI.  The apex court had earlier decided to keep the plea pending saying that the plea would be taken up “only after the Citizenship Act Amendment Bill reached its finality”. A Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi recently considered the plea for an urgent hearing on the PIL.The bench, also comprising Justices L.N. Rao and Sanjiv Khanna, was hearing the petition filed by the “Nagarikatwa Aain Songsudhan Birodhi Mancha” (Forum Against Citizenship Act (Amendment) Bill. The organizationl seeks to declare the Passport for entry to India Amendment Rules, 2015 and the Foreigners (Amendment) Order as “discriminatory, arbitrary and illegal”. The bill has been cleared by the Lok Sabha and it would now be presented in the Upper House of Parliament.  It has introduced religion as a new principle into the citizenship law and can be conveniently branded as ‘communally motivated humanitarianism’. The illegal immigrants are to qualify for citizenship only on the basis of religion, a requirement that goes against one of the basic tenets of the Indian Constitution, secularism,” the petition said.  BJP National President Amit Shah during his last Assam visit declared publicly that the bill will be definitely passed , if the  party  is returned to power after the coming Lok Sabha poll .The indigenous  people fear that their identity  will be impacted  if such people are granted citizenship and allowed to stay in the northeast.

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