Minutes after the Punjab Vidhan Sabha passed a resolution against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA, on Friday, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh declared that the border State will join Kerala in challenging the newly-amended law in the Supreme Court.
Describing the legislation as “inherently discriminatory” and a negation of the very secular fabric on which the Constitution of India is based, the Punjab Assembly adopted, by voice vote, a hard-hitting resolution seeking immediate repeal of the CAA, which the Chief Minister compared with the ethnic and religious cleansing of Hitler’s Germany.
Clearly, no lessons had been learnt from history, said a visibly anguished Chief Minister during the discussion on the resolution, which also urged the Centre to put on hold the work on the National Population Register (NPR) till forms or documents associated with it are amended suitably, in order to allay apprehensions that it is a prelude to the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and designed to deprive a section of persons from citizenship of India.
“Like Kerala, the (Punjab) Government will approach the Supreme Court on the issue,” said Amarinder while talking with the media after the conclusion of the two-day special Assembly session.
He said that the Centre would have to make the necessary amendments to CAA if it had to be implemented in Punjab and other States opposing the legislation.
“We have sent a draft to the Centre to make changes in the CAA to make it acceptable to everyone,” the CM said.
“Census is being carried out now…It will be done like earlier. Every citizen will be counted whether he is Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Christian or anybody,” said the Chief Minister.
Capt Amarinder, in response to a question, made it clear that the Census in Punjab would be conducted on the old parameters and the new factors added by the Centre for the purpose of the NPR would not be included.
Only a day before The Pioneer had reported, in these columns, that the Congress-led Punjab Government is considering to move the Supreme Court, on the lines of the Kerela Government, to challenge the validity of the controversial Act.
Notably, the Chief Minister has already issued directions to the office of the Advocate-General to see how the State can challenge the Act in the apex court. Available information suggests that the State is considering to move the Supreme Court against the CAA and NRC on the similar grounds as Kerala under Article 131 of the Constitution.
Notably, the Kerala Government has, on January 14, moved the Supreme Court challenging the contentious CAA under Article 131 of the Constitution which empowers the Apex Court to hear disputes between the Government of India and one or more States.
The petition stated that the CAA violates Right to Equality under Article 14 of the Constitution of India, Right to Life under Article 21 and Freedom to Practice Religion under Article 25. It argued that CAA is discriminatory because it covers only a class of minorities from a class of countries sharing borders with India and to which and from there have been trans-border migration.
The CAA, which has evoked countrywide protests, seeks to provide citizenship to illegal migrants from Buddhist, Hindu, Sikhs, Jain, Parsi and Christian faiths, who have come to India from the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, on or before December 31, 2014.
The resolution, which termed CAA as divisive and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution, was introduced in the House by Cabinet Minister Brahm Mohindra, and witnessed extensive three-hour long discussion before being put to vote by Speaker Rana KP Singh.
Terming the divisive Act as a tragedy that he was unfortunate to witness in his lifetime, the Chief Minister lamented that “what happened in Germany under Hitler in 1930 is happening in India now.”
“Germans did not speak then, and they regretted it, but we have to speak now, so that we don’t regret later,” he asserted, urging the Opposition, particularly the Akalis, to read Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ to understand the dangers of CAA. He said he would get the book translated in Punjabi and distributed so that all could read and grasp the historical mistakes that Hitler made.
“What is happening in India is not good for the country,” said Capt Amarinder, adding that people could see and understand, and were protesting spontaneously, without any instigation.”