No question of CAA violating constitutional morality: Centre to SC

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Rajasthan became the second state after Kerala to move the top court invoking Article 131 of the Constitution under which a state is empowered to directly move the top court in case of a dispute with the Centre.(File)

The Centre Tuesday told the Supreme Court that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act does not violate any fundamental right, in response to the pleas challenging the constitutional validity of the legislation. The central government, in its 129-page affidavit, termed the act "legal" and asserted that "there was no question of it violating constitutional morality".

The affidavit also said CAA does not confer any "arbitrary" and "unguided" powers on the executive as the citizenship to the persecuted minorities of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh would be granted in a manner as specified under the law governing grant of citizenship.

The affidavit has been filed by B C Joshi, Director in the Ministry of Home Affairs. It states that the CAA does not "impinge upon any existing right that may have existed prior to the enactment of the amendment and further, in no manner whatsoever, seeks to affect the legal, democratic or secular rights of any of the Indian citizens", Live Law reported.

The Congress government in Rajasthan also moved the Supreme Court on Monday challenging the validity of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, saying it is violative of the principle of secularism, which is part of the "basic structure" of the Constitution, and fundamental rights of equality and life. The Rajasthan government became the second state after Kerala to move the top court challenging the validity of the CAA. The plea stated that the contentious act was violative of "basic structure principle of secularism" and fundamental rights of equality and life.

Earlier, the CPI(M)-led Kerala had become the first state to challenge the CAA in the Supreme Court. The Kerala Assembly was also the first in the country to pass a resolution against the Act. The Kerala government had said in its suit that there is no rationale in grouping together the three countries -- Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh -- for the purpose of the CAA and rules and orders.

"Such grouping is not founded on any rationale principle justifying a separate special treatment for the irrationally chosen class of religious minorities facing persecution on the basis of religion therein," it had said.

Several petitions have been filed challenging the constitutional validity of the CAA including by RJD leader Manoj Jha, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi. Other petitioners include Muslim body Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, All Assam Students Union (AASU), Peace Party, CPI, NGOs 'Rihai Manch' and Citizens Against Hate, advocate M L Sharma, and law students have also approached the apex court challenging the Act.

The Supreme Court on December 18 last year had decided to examine the constitutional validity of the CAA but had refused to stay its operation. A bench, comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant, had earlier issued notice to the Centre and sought its response on the batch of pleas, including those filed by the IUML and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, challenging the CAA. The bench had also agreed to the submission of lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay that common people should be made aware about the aim, objects and the contents of the CAA and had asked Attorney General K K Venugopal, representing the Centre, to consider using audio-visual medium to make citizens aware of the legislation.

President Ram Nath Kovind gave assent to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on December 12 last year, turning it into an Act. The newly amended law seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim migrants belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Jain and Parsi communities who came to the country from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan on or before December 31, 2014.