Will Hear Petitions Challenging Validity of CAA When the Violence Stops, Says CJI SA Bobde

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday said it would hear the petitions challenging the constitutionality of the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 only once the nation-wide violence stops.

The observation was made by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde when a petition seeking to declare the controversial legislation as constitutional was mentioned before a bench headed by him by advocate Vineet Dhanda.

More than 60 petitions challenging the validity of the Act passed to Parliament last month to relax conditions for citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who had entered India before December 31, 2014 have been filed in the top court.

The petitions contend that the Act violates secular character of Indian constitution by linking citizenship with religious identity. The apex court had issued a notice to the Centre on December 18 and had asked the government to submit its reply by the second week of January.

Refusing urgent hearing of the plea that sought a direction to all states seeking the implementation of CAA, the bench expressed surprise and said this was the first time that someone is seeking that an Act be declared as constitutional.

“This court’s job is to determine validity of a law and not declare it as constitutional,” the bench also comprising justice B R Gavai and Surya Kant said.

“The nation is facing difficult times…the attempt must be to bring peace…these petitions don’t help the cause,” said the bench. The plea had also sought action against activists, students and media houses for “spreading rumours”.

The amended Citizenship law has sparked nationwide protests. While the protests have been largely peaceful, about about 25 persons have been killed allegedly due to police firings in the states of UP, Assam and Karnataka, all ruled by the BJP. There has also been violence in Delhi, where the police too comes under the central government.

There are also allegations of police violence against protesting students in Jamia Millia Islamia andAligarh Muslim University. The Allahabad HC on Tuesday directed the National Human Rights Commission to probe the police violence in AMU.

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