Amidst the ongoing protests against the amended citizenship act in the country, the Supreme Court on January 22nd, 2020 directed the Centre to respond to pleas challenging the validity of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in the next four weeks and said it will set up a five-judge Constitution bench to hear the petitions.
The bench comprising Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, Justices Abdul Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna also agreed to consider the petitions from Assam and Tripura separately. The cases from Uttar Pradesh will be segregated into another case. A total of 143 petitions have been field against CAA, NRC and National Population Register at the apex court.
The bench also restrained all high courts from hearing pleas on CAA till it decides the petitions.
President Ram Nath Kovind gave assent to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on December 12th, 2020, turning it into an Act. The Centre notified the CAA on January 11th, 2020.
The CAA grants citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Parsi, Buddhist, and Christian refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh who came to India on or before December 31st, 2014.
Massive protests broke out in the country soon after the passage of the Bill in both the houses of the parliament on December 11th, 2020. Those protesting against the law say that the Act is discriminatory and creates a divide on the basis of religion.
In Assam, protesters said that the Act violated the historic Assam Accord and hence, the people of the state will not “accept” the “anti-Assam” citizenship act.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that the CAA will not be withdrawn come what may. While speaking at an event in Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow on January 21st, 2020, Shah said, “This law will not be withdrawn, no matter who protests. We are not scared of opposition, we were born in it.”