CAA Challenge: Supreme Court Issues Notice To Union On Pleas To Stay Citizenship Amendment Act & Rules, Posts On April 9

Awstika Das

19 March 2024 9:23 AM GMT

  • CAA Challenge: Supreme Court Issues Notice To Union On Pleas To Stay Citizenship Amendment Act & Rules, Posts On April 9

    The Supreme Court on Tuesday (March 19) issued notice to the union government on a batch of applications seeking to stay the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the Citizenship Amendment Rules 2024. Seeking the Union's response, the court posted the matter on April 9.A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra adjourned today's hearing on Solicitor...

    The Supreme Court on Tuesday (March 19) issued notice to the union government on a batch of applications seeking to stay the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the Citizenship Amendment Rules 2024. Seeking the Union's response, the court posted the matter on April 9.

    A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra adjourned today's hearing on Solicitor General Tushar Mehta's request.

    The law officer sought time to respond to the petitions and the applications. He argued, “There are 237 petitions. 20 applications have been filed for stay. I need to file a reply. I was seeking time. I need time to collate etc. The Act does not take away anyone's citizenship. There is no prejudice caused to the petitioners.”

    SG Mehta also told the court that the Centre would require four weeks' time to file a response.

    This was met with objection from Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, who alleged that it was an inordinate amount of time to seek for filing a reply to stay applications.

    Representing the Indian Union Muslim League, the senior counsel argued further, “If the process of citizenship starts, it cannot be reversed. If they have waited till now, they can wait till July or whenever this court decides the matter. There is no great urgency.” 

    Advocate Nizam Pasha, appearing for AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, also pointed out that the Centre's counter affidavit states that it is a preliminary affidavit to oppose a stay on the Act. “What they are asking for time for is already filed.”

    “My learned friend is right,” SG Mehta admitted, but explained that the Union of India would like to file a detailed affidavit now in response to the batch of applications.

    Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, in turn, urged Solicitor General Mehta to make an assurance at the Bar that pending the hearing, no one would be granted citizenship.

    Appearing on behalf of a Hindu immigrant from Balochistan, Senior Advocate Ranjit Kumar countered, "This individual was persecuted in Balochistan. If they are given citizenship, how will it affect you?"

    Jaising replied, "They will get the right to vote!"

    Other counsel representing the petitioners also responded by saying that 'prejudice' would be caused. Pasha argued that individuals from the Muslim community left out of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) will be prejudiced. He explained -

    "In 2019, 19 lakh people found themselves outside the pale of citizenship. No executive decision has been taken on what is to be done with them. Now, the law is allowed to come into operation where it's like lining up people in front of a firing squad where it is said all persons not belonging to X religion, can step out of line. That's the prejudice caused. Now, for the non-Muslim persons outside of the NRC, their applications can start getting processed under the CAA while only the Muslim members are left out of this exercise. And any executive action will be directed towards one particular community, one particular religion."

    "Mr Pasha, please. An effort was made earlier outside this court to mislead people that they will be ousted. This is the same thing that Mr Pasha did. The NRC is not an issue before this court, only the grant of citizenship on the basis of the Citizenship Amendment Act," SG Mehta protested.

    "Alright. Instead of four weeks, we will grant you three weeks," Chief Justice Chandrachud told the solicitor general. When the law officer pointed to the volume of the litigation, Chief Justice Chandrachud instructed, "At this stage, You can file a response only to the interim application."

    "Let them have as much time, but don't grant citizenship in meantime," Jaising added.

    "I am not making any such statement," Solicitor General Mehta stated firmly.

    When Jaising insisted that the court clarify in its order that any citizenship granted in the meantime will be subject to the outcome of the petitions, Chief Justice Chandrachud pointed out that the government did not have neither the infrastructure nor the committees processing citizenship applications in place. 

    To this, Sibal suggested, "The moment something like this happens, give us liberty to move here."

    "We are here," Chief Justice assured.

    Assam tribal organisations raise apprehension over inflow of people from other states owing to CAA

    The discussion also touched upon the unique situation in Assam and the North East regarding the exclusion of certain areas from the CAA's operation. Senior Advocate Vijay Hansaria highlighted that Section 6B(4) of the Act excludes the entire northeast, including Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, and Meghalaya. He emphasised that if their argument succeeds, these areas would be included.

    “Only tribal areas are excluded, not the whole of the state,” Jaising pointed out.

    Hansaria, who was appearing for an umbrella organisation comprising several tribal organisations in the State of Assam, responded by saying that there were only three tribal areas in the state spanning seven districts. Arguing against the potential inflow of people from the neighbouring states once the process under the Citizenship Amendment Act starts, Hansaria said –

    “Arunachal is an inner line state, completely out. Manipur is an inner line state, completely out. Meghalaya entire state is Sixth Schedule area, completely out. Mizoram is an inner-line state completely out. Tripura is 67 percent tribal area. There are only three tribal areas in Assam covering seven districts. If the people from other states come once process starts...That's the apprehension.”

    Chief Justice Chandrachud clarified, “So according to you, this is an invitation from people from outlying states to come into Assam?”

    “Exactly,” Hansaria replied.

    Jaising, however, suggested that de-tagging the matters dealing with the unique situation in Assam might not be appropriate, contending that the arguments would be common. The chief justice then inquired if there was an earlier order de-tagging the Assam batch, to which Jaising responded that there was an order for segregation.

    “Then we'll maintain that. Segregation only means we will deal with it in a separate silo but in the same batch,” Chief Justice Chandrachud stated. The bench also passed an order appointing separate nodal counsel for the clutch of petitions relating to the States of Assam and Tripura. Advocate Ankit Yadav was appointed for the petitioners' side while Advocate Kanu Agarwal for the respondents.

    After hearing the submissions, the proceedings were adjourned until April 9.

    Today's hearing comes amidst a flurry of legal actions following the recent notification of the rules by the union government, with several petitioners, including the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), the State of Kerala, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi, opposition leaders from Assam and others filing interlocutory stay applications in their pending writ petitions.


    The Citizenship Amendment Rules were notified by the Centre last week to enforce the Citizenship Amendment Act, which aims to expedite Indian citizenship for non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan who entered India before December 31, 2014.

    This is because of the proviso added to Section 2(1)(b) of the Citizenship Act by the 2019 Amendment Act. According to this proviso, any person belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, or Christian community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, or Pakistan who entered India before December 31, 2014, without valid documents will not be treated as an 'illegal migrant'.

    The act has been subject to widespread scrutiny, sparking protests and legal challenges across the country. Over 200 writ petitions were filed in the Supreme Court raising concerns about its religion-based classification and the impact on the fundamental right to equality. These writ petitions were last listed before the apex court on October 31, 2022.

    The government's defence of the act rests on its assertion that it does not affect the citizenship of any Indian citizen. However, critics argue that the CAA's exclusion of certain religious groups from its benefits runs counter to India's secular ethos.

    On March 11, the union government notified the rules to implement the Citizenship Amendment Act as well as the formation of committees at the state or union territory level to process the applications under the act.

    This triggered a cascade of legal challenges with the Indian Union Muslim League leading the charge by filing an interlocutory application in their pending writ petition the very next day. The IUML was not the only petitioner to approach the apex court. On the same day, the Democratic Youth Front of India (DYFI) filed an application in their writ petition, contending that the act's religious criteria violate the fundamental principle of secularism which forms a part of the basic structure of the Constitution.

    Soon, the All-Assam Students Union (AASU) and opposition leaders from Assam also joined the legal fray, challenging the rules' compatibility with the Assam Accord and constitutional provisions.

    An application for an interim injunction has also been filed by the State of Kerala in their 2019 original suit under Article 131 challenging the constitutionality of the Citizenship Amendment Act.

    In a related development, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs released a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) stating that no Indian citizen would be required to produce any documents to prove their citizenship under the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019. Through this release, the ministry sought to allay fears among Indian Muslims, emphasising that the CAA does not impact their citizenship. According to the ministry, the Act has no bearing on the present 18 crore Indian Muslims, who enjoy equal rights as their Hindu counterparts.

    These statements were part of the FAQs released by the home ministry through the Press Information Bureau (PIB), although these were later pulled down from the PIB website.

    Case Details

    Indian Union of Muslim League & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors. | Writ Petition (Civil) No. 1470 of 2019 and connected matters

    Click Here To Read/Download Order

    Next Story