Asia - Pacific

Indian top court to examine validity of citizenship law

Three judge bench of apex court admits petitions, but refuses to put law in abeyance

Shuriah Niazi   | 18.12.2019
Indian top court to examine validity of citizenship law

NEW DELHI, India 

The Indian Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice to the government in all 60 petitions challenging the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act.

Amid raging protests, the three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde, however, refused to put the law in abeyance. The matter will now be taken up next year on Jan. 22.

The Citizenship Act would grant citizenship to six minorities, except Muslims from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh -- all Muslim-majority nations in South Asia.

According to the Indian Express newspaper, the Supreme Court also orally instructed Attorney General Kottayan Katankot Venugopal, appearing for the government, to create public awareness about the law and publish its details in the media.

A number of petitions were filed before the apex court against the exclusion of Muslims from the purview of the law. According to petitioners, it is violative of the basic principles of secularism, enshrined in the Indian constitution.

The first to challenge the controversial law was the Indian Union of Muslim League, a political party active in the southernmost state of Kerala.

Other prominent petitioners included Asaduddin Owaisi, lawmaker from southern city of Hyderabad, Mahua Moitra from West Bengal, Pradyot Deb Burman, representing the All Assam Students Union, Jairam Ramesh, key member of the main opposition Indian National Congress party as well as activists Harsh Mander, Aruna Roy, Nihil Dey, Irfan Habib and Prabhat Patnaik.

On Tuesday Indian Home Minister Amit Shah said the government would not back down in the face of nationwide protests. "Come what may, the Modi government will ensure these refugees get Indian citizenship and live as Indians with honor," Shah said at a rally in capital Delhi.

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