KERALA FILES SUIT AGAINST CAA
Context: The Kerala government on January 14th moved the Supreme Court challenging the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019, joining the batch of 60 other petitions questioning the constitutionality of the law.
- Kerala became the first state to move the Supreme Court challenging the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, which was notified on 10 January.
- The move comes amid nationwide protestsagainst the contentious legislation.
- It also comes against the backdrop of the Kerala legislative assembly on 31 December passing a resolution demanding that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act be scrapped.
- The Citizenship (Amendment) Act seeks to give citizenship to six non-Muslim minority communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
- But the act has seen vociferous opposition across the country ever since it passed by Parliament in December2019.
- Kerala, as a state, is constitutionally bound, under Article 256, to implement any law passed by Parliament.
- The plea, filed under Article 131 of the Constitution on disputes between the Centre and states, said the Act violates the right to equality under Article 14 of the Constitution of India, right to life under Article 21, and freedom to practise religion under Article 25.
- The petition was filed by the standing counsel for the Kerala government.
- The Kerala government in its petition has also sought directions to declare the Passport (Entry to India) Amendment Rules, 2015, and Foreigners (Amendment) Order, 2015, to be “ultra vires the Constitution of India and to be void”.
- It has also claimed that the amendments to the passport rules and the foreign order results in classifications based on religion and that the classification is “apparently and manifestly discriminatory, arbitrary, unreasonable and having no rational nexus with the object sought to be achieved”.
- The petitioner has sought directions from the Supreme Court for the Act and rules to be declared violative of the Constitution and basic structure of secularism in India.
- The Supreme Court on 10 January issued notices to all petitioners who have moved different high courts challenging the constitutional validity of the CAA, seeking their views on the Centre’s plea to transfer their petitions to the top court.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE KERALA PETITION AND PETITIONS ALREADY FILED
- There is a major difference between the petitions already filed before the Supreme Court and the one filed by Kerala
- The Kerala plea has been filed under Article 131 of the Constitution of India.
- The other petitions filed in the Supreme Court challenging CAA have invoked the court’s “writ jurisdiction” under Article 32 of the Constitution, which allows enforcement of fundamental rights.
Article 256 in The Constitution Of India (Obligation of States and the Union): The executive power of every State shall be so exercised as to ensure compliance with the laws made by Parliament and any existing laws which apply in that State, and the executive power of the Union shall extend to the giving of such directions to a State as may appear to the Government of India to be necessary for that purpose.
Article 32 of the Constitution of India confers power on the Supreme Court to issue direction or order or writ, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III of the constitution which are the fundamental rights
- Article 131 of the Indian Constitution states: “Original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court:
- Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the Supreme Court shall, to the exclusion of any other court, have original jurisdiction in any dispute: Between the Government of India and one or more States; if and insofar as the dispute involves any question (whether of law or fact) on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends…”
- Article 131, therefore, allows a state to file a suit in the Supreme Court in case of any dispute that it may have with the central government, invoking the court’s “original jurisdiction”.
- Centre must carry the states along if it wishes to make meaningful progress on integrating refugees and identifying illegal immigrants.
- The National Development Council comprising the Prime Minister, Union Cabinet and Chief Ministers offer an ideal forum for a meeting of minds.
- The government can look at its own success in bringing states on board through the GST Council to follow the same course at yet another difficult juncture in Centre-state relations.