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Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar. (PTI )
Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar. (PTI )

UN High Commissioner seeks SC intervention in Citizenship Amendment Act

  • The perception that CAA along with NRC could strip Indian Muslims of their citizenship
  • Prime Minister Modi has said that there would be no repeal of the act

NEW DELHI : Heightening fault lines between India and the Geneva based UN High Commission for Human Rights, the UN High Commissioner has filed an application seeking intervention by India’s Supreme Court on the 2019 Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

“Our Permanent Mission in Geneva was informed yesterday (Monday) evening by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that her Office had filed an Intervention Application in the Supreme Court of India in respect to the 2019 Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)," Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said in a statement.

The act was passed by the Indian parliament in December and seeks to fast track citizenship for persecuted minorities from three countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. It however leaves out the possibility of India giving citizenship to persecuted Muslims from these countries. The perception that this act along with plans for India to create a National Register of Citizens – to weed out illegal immigrants and establish due Indian citizenship – could strip Indian Muslims of their citizenship has spurred protests in different parts of the country though the situation has stabilized somewhat. Prime Minister Modi has said that there would be no repeal of the act.

“The Citizenship Amendment Act is an internal matter of India and concerns the sovereign right of the Indian Parliament to make laws. We strongly believe that no foreign party has any locus standi on issues pertaining to India’s sovereignty," Kumar said in his statement.

“We are clear that the CAA is constitutionally valid and complies with all requirements of our constitutional values. It is reflective of our long standing national commitment in respect of human rights issues arising from the tragedy of the Partition of India," he said.

“India is a democratic country governed by the rule of law. We all have utmost respect for and full trust in our independent judiciary. We are confident that our sound and legally sustainable position would be vindicated by the Honorbale Supreme Court," Kumar added.

According to analysts, the Supreme Court would first have to decide whether the UNHCR has the right to petition the court on this matter.

The European Parliament is also set to debate a resolution that criticises the CAA and its communication clampdown in Kashmir after it revoked the special status to the region in August last year.

Taken together, the developments may cast a shadow over Modi’s visit to Brussels that is slated for 13 March for the India-European Union Summit.

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