Citizenship Amendment Act

Citizens form the base of the society and going against them would mean that you are going against the very nature of the Democratic society. Citizenship( Amendment) Act,  2019 ( hereinafter referred as ‘ CAA’)  amended Citizenship Act,  1955 thereby granting citizenship to the illegal migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain,  Parsi or Christian community. The Act will apply upon only those migrants who has entered India on or before 31st December, 2014.

The Act,  though, was enacted with the intention of providing equal status to those abovementioned people under Article 14 who are treated like refugees  but every coin has two sides and so do this Act. On one side, it tried to invoke the Principles of the Constitution whereas on the other hand, it tried to unintentionally violate the basic structure of the Constitution. So first discuss the affirmative side of the Act. The Act contents to provide equal status to the ‘persons’ living in India under Article 14 of the Constitution. Clearly speaking, the law does not violate Article 14 as it allows the Parliament to exercise Legislative Classification. For an Act to be unconstitutional, it need to violate the basic structure or Fundamental Rights of the Constitution, which this Act does not.

But the weight is more on the other side. The Act patently i.e. on the face of it,  appears to be unconstitutional and Arbitrary. That is to say, it clearly violates Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution  Violative on the ground of ground of religion, the Act is said to be discriminatory for Muslims on the logic that Indian Citizenship would be given only to those who are facing ‘ Religious Persecution’ in the Muslim Majority Countries , thereby an attack on the Minority community. This ‘minority’ issue was the reason which led to several protests in different parts of the country, the locus being the Shaheen Bagh, Delhi. The Muslim Minority are afraid of facing discrimination despite they being the citizens of this country. After long protests and no action being taken, Indian Union Muslim League filed the petition challenging the Act. The contentions raised were the Act violates Article 14 of the Constitution. Agreed the laws are allowed to be classified but there has to be an ‘Intelligible Differentia’ and ‘Reasonable Classification’ which is not present in the Act. Article 14 says ‘Equality before Law’ or ‘Equal Protection of Laws’ which means benefits of the laws should be given equally to all and in case if there is any discrimination then it is the Proactive role of State to work for ‘Larger Equality’ which is the purpose (Purposive Interpretation) of the Article.

Besides, Article 15 and 16 prohibits any sort of discrimination on the ground of Religion. Talking about the protection of interest of minorities then the same has been dealt in Article 29 and 30 of the Constitution whose Purposive Interpretation lays down that the minorities should be socially and educationally uplifted by providing them reservations and creating awareness and protecting them. Besides, the Act is allowing the Indian Citizenship to the minorities of only 3 Countries namely Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan- thus a clear arbitrary action on the part of the lawmakers.

The lawmakers are the changemakers and any coercive action against them would definitely defeat the roots of the Democracy. The Constitution is the Grundnorm which is running the Indian society. Any law against the Constitution would go against the norms of the society. Indian society and the Constitution is said to be ‘Secular’ in nature that is no Religion. But Act’s like these certainly question this term. You don’t have to ask where the term ‘Secular’ is written,  it is imbibed and hence, legislature is prudent enough to make laws which do not get challenged on these religious basis thereby, maintaining the sanctity and respect of the Constitution and allowing the citizens to live with dignity.

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