Kerala moves Supreme Court against CAA, becomes first state to legally challenge Centre

Pinarayi Vijaya-led LDF is the first government to move legally against the CAA

pinarayi-assembly Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan | Onmanorama

The Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government in Kerala has moved the Supreme Court against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), a first by any state government, reports emerged on Tuesday. The plea, filed under Article 131 of the Constitution on disputes between Centre and states, 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, Hindustan Times reported. Earlier, Mamata Banerjee from West Bengal and Congress chief ministers like Amarinder Singh from Punjab—even the NDA constituent JD(U) led by Nitish Kumar in Bihar had sought a debate on CAA—had spoken out against implementing the legislation in their respective states.

Claiming the Act was unconstitutional, the Kerala Assembly, on December 31, had passed a resolution demanding scrapping of the CAA. The ruling CPI(M)-LDF and the opposition Congress-led UDF supported the resolution while BJP's lone MLA and former Union minister O. Rajagopal's was the only dissenting voice in the one-day special session.

While presenting the resolution, Vijayan said the CAA was against the "secular" outlook and fabric of the country and would lead to religion- based discrimination in granting citizenship. "The Act contradicts the basic values and principles of the Constitution In view of the anxiety among the people of the country, the Centre should take steps to drop the CAA and uphold the secular outlook of the Constitution," he said. Noting that the act had triggered widespread protests among various stratas of society, the Chief Minister said it had dented India's image in front of the international community

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on December 12 said the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was a direct assault on India's secular character and the Parliament had "no authority" to pass a law that "defiled" the Constitution and violated its basic principles. He said Punjab will not implement the Act. "The Congress government in the state, on its part, will not let the legislation rip apart the secular fabric of the country, whose strength lies in its diversity," Singh said. 

The contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 might not be implemented in Madhya Pradesh as well as Chhattisgarh states, with chief ministers of both the states saying that their stand is same as the Congress party on the issue.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was one of the most strident critics of CAA and the National Register for Citizens (NRC) from the earliest phases. The CM had claimed she would not allow such a legislation to be passed. 

The CAA was passed by Parliament on December 11. According to the legislation, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014 due to religious persecution will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship. There have been widespread protests against the Act in different parts of the country. In UP, at least 19 persons were killed in anti-CAA protests. 

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had, however, reiterated that it was legally binding on the states to pass the legislation: “It is the constitutional duty of the States to implement laws passed by Parliament,” he said.

-Inputs from PTI