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Two experts had warned CAB will violate Constitution

While tendering evidence before the committee, Kashyap had deposed: “...mentioning minority communities, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, and Christians, is violative of the Constitution because Article 14. JPC report said Vishwanathan referred to Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955, amendments to which may be ultra vires.

, ET Bureau|
Dec 14, 2019, 08.30 AM IST
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New Delhi: Two former secretary generals of Lok Sabha had raised concerns over the Citizenship Amendment Bill, calling it “violation of Constitution” that had “implications” on Assam Accord, before the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Citizenship.

Subhash Kashyap and T K Vishwanathan were of the view that the bill may not stand the scrutiny of the Supreme Court.

The panel report — prepared by a majority vote as opposition members objected to provisions of the bill — was tabled in Parliament in January.

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While tendering evidence before the committee, Kashyap had deposed: “...I submit that mentioning minority communities, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, and Christians, is violative of the Constitution because Article 14 is very clear that all persons on the soil of India, once any one is on the soil of India, cannot be discriminated on grounds of religion. So, my humble submission for your consideration would be that if we do not change this, it may be thrown out by the Supreme Court within minutes.”

He further stated, “Article 14 and Article 25 would be violated if we continue to use Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, because Article 25 says, for example, that Muslims also have the right to practice their religion. If you deny some benefits to them as against others only on the ground of religion, Article 25 would also be violated....”

After the bill was passed by Parliament this week, Kashyap told ET: “I think those who are dissatisfied with the law can go to the court and challenge it there. As far as Constitution is concerned, the right in all matters of citizenship under Article 11 of the Constitution vests entirely with Parliament of India.”

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On his deposition before the JPC, Kashyap said, “I had suggested a different formulation of the law (where) the result would have been same, and it would not have named any community.”

According to the JPC report, Kashyap stated, “Firstly, the term minority has not been defined in the Constitution. I would submit that the minority does not mean only religious minority. It may be minority on other grounds... If you say persecuted minorities, it will cover all those people you have in view. I again submit that if we use the term ‘persecuted minorities’ the purpose would be served. As compared to communities, minorities would perhaps be more useful from the legal and constitutional point of view.”

“Vishwanathan pointed out certain issues relating to the amendment proposals which include implications of the proposals vis-à-vis Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 etc,” the panel report said. Section 6A deals with the special provisions for citizenship of persons covered by the Assam Accord.

When contacted, Vishwanath told ET, “I am not well-versed with this subject, and have not followed it lately.”

The JPC in its final report had said it is convinced with views of the government that “mentioning the names of the six religious minority communities will not violate the spirit of Article 14 and Article 25 of the Constitution and the bill will stand the scrutiny of judiciary and vires of the Constitution.”

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