State governments have no powers to reject the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 as the legislation was enacted under the Union List of the 7th Schedule of the Constitution, a top official said on Friday, according to PTI.
The statement came after chief ministers of West Bengal, Punjab, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh announced that the law is "unconstitutional" and has no place in their respective states.
“The states have no powers to deny implementation of a central law which is in the Union List,” the top official from the home ministry said, according to PTI.
There are 97 items which are under the Union List of the 7th Schedule that include Defence, External Affairs, Railways, Citizenship and Naturalisation, among others.
Kerala, Punjab and West Bengal have registering their protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act by stating that they will not allow it to be implemented in their states, as the Opposition continues its push back against the new law.
‘Rejection of Secularism’
A day after the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha, Vijayan lashed out at the BJP-led government and said the "unconstitutional Bill" will have no place in Kerala and the state will not implement it.
While asking the people to oppose the Bill, Vijayan claimed that the Act is a rejection of secularism.
Our democracy is in danger. With CAB, Sangh Parivar has used the majority they enjoy in the parliament to uproot the bedrock of Indian democracy & Constitution. It's a rejection of secularism. BJP has made it clear that their main political plank is communalism. We must resist.— Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) December 12, 2019
"The Act is unconstitutional.. Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) will have no place in Kerala and it will not be implemented in the State," Vijayan told reporters, according to PTI.
Vijayan also tweeted that democracy in the country was in danger.
"....It's a rejection of secularism. BJP has made it clear that their main political plank is communalism. We must resist," Vijayan said in a tweet.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill is an attack on the secular and democratic character of India. The move to decide citizenship on the basis of religion amounts to a rejection of the Constitution. It will only take our country backward. Our hard-fought freedom is at stake. pic.twitter.com/Yg9Y8QJLUx— Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) December 11, 2019
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday said the Bill was a direct assault on India's secular character and the Parliament had "no authority" to pass a Bill that "defiled" the Constitution and violated its basic principles, PTI reported.
Singh said that instead of using brute majority in Parliament to push through the Bill, the central government should have discussed the matter with all parties and tried to reach a consensus "if at all it felt the legislation was in the interest of India and its people".
Any legislation that seeks to “divide the people of the country on religious lines is illegal and unethical, and could not be allowed to sustain,” the CM said in a statement, according to PTI.
In a tweet, he said that his government would not allow the Act to be implemented in Punjab.
Any legislation that seeks to divide people on religious lines is illegal, unethical & unconstitutional. India's strength lies in its diversity and #CABBill2019 violates the basic principle of the constitution. Hence my govt will not allow the bill to be implemented in Punjab.— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) December 12, 2019
“We have a majority in the Assembly, and will block the Bill. We will not let it rip apart the secular fabric of the country, whose strength lies in its diversity,” he said, according to The Indian Express.
‘No Need to Worry About NRC, CAB’
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had voiced her opposition to the Bill before it was passed. She called it a divisive Bill and said that it should be opposed at any cost.
"There is no need to worry about NRC and CAB. We will never ever allow it in Bengal. They can't just throw out a legal citizen of this country or turn him/her a refugee," Banerjee said while addressing a victory rally at Kharagpur, where her party TMC won the recent bypolls, according to PTI.
On Friday,Banerjee reiterated that she would not allow its implementation in the state "under any circumstances".
Addressing a press meet in Digha, Banerjee said the saffron party can't bulldoze the states to implement the law, PTI reported.
“We will never allow NRC exercise and Citizenship Act in Bengal. We will not implement the amended Act, even though it has been passed in Parliament. The BJP can’t just bulldoze the states to implement it,” Banerjee said.
"The Citizenship Act will divide India. As long as we are in power, not a single person in the state will have to leave the country," the chief minister added.
Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh
Meanwhile, the chief ministers of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh said that they would adhere to the Congress party’s stand.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said the act was clearly unconstitutional. "Whatever decision is made at the Congress party forum on the bill, will be applied in Chhattisgarh," he said, according to PTI.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath said, "Whatever stand the Congress party has taken on Citizenship Amendment Act, we will follow that. Do we want to be a part of a process that sows seeds of divisiveness?".
(With inputs from PTI and The Indian Express.)
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