As the Supreme Court is set to consider the challenge against the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 next week, a petition has been filed in the top court challenging the notification for National Population Register (NPR).
The petition filed by a NGO named 'Minority Front' states that NPR is the first step for National Register of Citizens (NRC). Since the Prime Minister has already announced a decision in his speech made on December 22 to not to go ahead with NRC, the preparation of NPR is "nothing but a waste of time, energy and valuable resources of the Nation", states the petition.
The petition further says :
"It is submitted that as per media reports a sum of Rs 3,941.35 crore has been approved to be utilized for the exercise of preparing the National Population Register (NPR) which sum will be wasted as the preparation of National Population Register is not an isolated exercise and is intrinsically linked to the subsequent preparation of the NRC. It is relevant to note that in the present economic scenario, where there has been a sharp slowdown in economic growth, the entire sum sanctioned for preparation of the NPR will go down the drain as the Government is not planning to prepare a nationwide NRC".
It is pointed out in the petition that the same rules govern the NPR & NRC - Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003. As per Rule 4(3) and 4(4) data collected for NPR is used to mark 'doubtful citizens' and to prepare NRC.
Therefore, the petitioners argue that it is clear that "the preparation of the Population Register is not only the first step but a precondition to the preparation of the NRC".
What Is The CAA-NPR-NRC Link?[Explainer]
On July 31, 2019 , the Union Ministry of Home Affairs had issued the notification for preparation of NPR between April 2020 to September 2020. This notification has exempted the state of Assam. According to the petitioners, this is another factor showing the link between NPR and proposed NRC, as Assam already has an NRC finalized.
It is stated that the CAA cannot be seen in isolation and has to be seen "chronologically" with the Government's notification to prepare the NPR followed by an eventual nationwide NRC.
The petition challenges the CAA on similar grounds as in the various other petitions which have been filed in the SC, contending that the religion-based exclusion of migrants from the protection of the Act amounts to religious discrimination, violating Article 14 of the Constitution. It is also urged that the Act violates the secular character of the Indian Constitution by linking citizenship with religion.
The petition also challenges the 2015 and 2016 notifications under the Foreigners Act and Passport (Entry into India) Rules 1950 which regularized the stay of non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who had entered India before December 31, 2014 after fleeing religious persecution in their home countries.
"the Impugned Act has to be read comprehensively with the other provisions of law particularly the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 which provide for the identification of illegal migrants from citizens through the preparation of a National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC –popularly known as 'NRC'). It is submitted that the joint reading of the Impugned Act and the 2003 Rules reveals a clear scheme to single out certain communities and deny them the benefit of the Impugned Act, which is impermissible", states the petition filed through Advocate Ejaz Maqbool.
"It is submitted that the CAA-NPR-NRC trinity has created huge unrest in the country due to the apprehensions of the impact it will have on the poor and marginalised sections of the society, particularly Muslims" the petition says.
The petition also challenges Section 3 of the Citizenship Act 1955 to the extent it introduces conditions for citizenship by birth for those born after July 1987.
"The cumulative effect of the impugned provisions of the Citizenship Act of 1955 is to arbitrarily deprive nationality to the children born in India after 1st July 1987", the petitioner argues.
The petition has been drawn by Advocates Ejaz Maqbool, Akriti Chaubey, Kunwar Aditya Singh, Muhammad Isa M.Hakim and Aishwarya Sarkar.
Click here to download petition