Chidamabaram asked why the bill included only those who faced religious persecution and not persecution based on political reasons
Participating in a debate on the bill in the Rajya Sabha, P Chidambaram charged the government with 'wrecking and demolishing' the Constitution
NEW DELHI :
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Wednesday termed the Citizenship Amendment Bill a slap on the face of Parliament and said the government is "ramming" through with it in order to advance its Hindutva agenda.
Participating in a debate on the bill in the Rajya Sabha, he charged the government with "wrecking and demolishing" the Constitution through it and expressed confidence that the judiciary would strike down the law.
Terming the bill "unconstitutional and insidious", the senior Congress leader asked why Sri Lankan Hindus and Bhutanese Christians were excluded, saying this "exclusionary, inclusionary hyphenation is beyond common sense and logic".
"This (bill) is a slap on the face of Parliament. Parliamentarians are being asked to do something unconstitutional and then the baby is passed on to the judiciary and in the judiciary, lawyers and judges will decide what you have done is constitutional or not. Knowing this is unconstitutional, I am afraid this government is ramming through (with) this bill in order to advance its Hindutva agenda," he said.
"This is a sad day. Thankfully they are not amending the Constitution, they are only making a law. I am absolutely confident, I am absolutely clear in my mind, this law will be struck down," he added.
He claimed that a small part of the Constitution is sought to be wrecked and demolished by this "insidious" bill, hoping the judiciary would strike it down and save India and the idea of India.
The bill seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan after facing religious persecution there.
He sought to know on what basis the six religious groups were identified and others like Ahmadiyas, Hazaras and Rohingyas left out.
Chidamabaram asked why the bill included only those who faced religious persecution and not persecution based on political reasons, on linguistic grounds, or by unleashing religious war against them.
Claiming that arbitrariness was writ large on the face of the bill, he asked whether or not it violated the three fundamental principles of Article 14 of the Constitution.
He dared the government to lay the opinion of the law department and to invite the attorney general to the Upper House to answer all these questions.
Terming the Citizenship Amendment Bill a "patently unconstitutional law", he said the government was pushing the issue to the lap of the judges.
Ram Chandra Prasad Singh (JDU) supported the bill and sought to provide an assurance that the party would not be left behind in opposing any discrimination on the basis of religion in the country.
K Keshava Rao (TRS) said the bill challenged the very idea of India and it negated every idea of justice.
"We oppose this bill because it is marginalising Muslims, because it is anti-Muslim," Rao said.
T K Rangarajan of the CPI(M) termed it "anti- constitutional and illegal" and said his party opposed the bill, asking why other communities like Ahmadiyas, Rohingyas and Sri Lankan Tamils were excluded from its ambit.
Tiruchi Siva of the DMK said he strongly opposed the bill and it would not stand the scrutiny of the Supreme Court. He described it as "extremely polarising" and said a sense of apprehension had cropped up in Muslims across the country.
Swapan Dasgupta (nominated) said the bill had followed international laws.
Biswajit Daimary (BPF) supported the bill, while Birendra Prasad Baishya (AGP) claimed that the Assamese people were in constant fear and the state could not take the burden of extra people. He demanded that Inner Line Permit System should be implemented in Assam.
Supporting the bill, K J Alphons (BJP) raised the issue of plight of Christians in Pakistan and said the government abrogated provisions of Article 370 because it was a constitutional anomaly.
Vijila Sathyananth (AIADMK) said her party supported the bill but pleaded to Home Minister Amit Shah seeking inclusion of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in the bill's ambit.
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