The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice on a petition challenging the Union Ministry's notification for preparation of National Population Register (NPR)
A bench headed by the Chief Justice of India said that the matter will be taken along with the batch of anti-CAA petitions on January 22.
It is pointed out in the petition that Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 give power to the Local Registrar to mark "doubtful citizens" from the National Population Register.
The petition filed by Bengal-based teacher Israrul Hoque Mondal and nineteen others states that the Rules do not provide for any express grounds to deem a citizenship doubtful.
"Thus the doubtfulness of citizenship is left to the personal bias and discretion of the Local Registrar", the petition says.
It is argued that citizenship can be deprived of only under Sections 9 and 10 of the Citizenship Act 1955. Hence, the power granted to an officer to mark 'doubtful citizens' is arbitrary and unreasonable.
Muslims are rendered highly vulnerable in the process, as most of them belong to socially and economically backward class, who may not be in possession of documents to establish claims of citizenship.
"Given the poor levels of education and high levels of migration across States, the probability of not having the means to furnish particulars as required under the Citizenship Rules is very high", the petition states.
It is also highlighted in the petition that about 300 million Indians are landless, and they may not be able to establish claims of citizenship based on documents.
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. The petition seeks to quash this notification.
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 joint effect of the impugned amendment and Rules is that lakhs of bonafide Indians are at risk of being declared 'doubtful citizens' with gross injustice of only adherents of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Parsi, Jain and Christians still being given citizenship under the deeming fiction of refuge from religious persecution", states the petition filed through Advocate M R Shamshad.
Earlier this week, another petition was filed in the top court challenging the NPR notification. NPR was undoubtedly the first step towards NRC, the petitioners in that case had asserted. If NRC was not going to be implemented as per the assurance given by the Prime Minister, what is the need for NPR, asked the petitioners.
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