Plea in SC against MHA’s notification for citizenship applications from non-Muslim refugees

New Delhi: A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) notification inviting Indian citizenship applications from non-Muslim refugees belonging to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Anis Ahmed, General Secretary of Popular Front of India (PFI), which filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the top Court said that the government is attempting to implement Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) through the backdoor without framing rules.

The plea filed through the advocate, A Selvin Raja, sought direction to declare MHA’s May 28 notification as “unconstitutional, discriminatory and ultravires” to Article 14 of the Constitution of India as it “utterly deprive the Muslims to seek for citizenship by registration and naturalisation unequally by virtue of their religion”.

The Union Home Ministry on May 28 issued a notification asking non-Muslims belonging to Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan and residing in 13 districts of Haryana, Punjab, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh to apply for Indian citizenship.

The plea said that the Ministry of Home Affairs carefully attempted to achieve the object of CAA, 2019 indirectly and implement the same by mere issuance of an executive order.

“It is pertinent to submit here that the Union government did not frame the CAA Rules despite the fact that the CAA came into existence in December 2019 itself,” added the plea.

In its plea, the PFI sought direction to “read down the Order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs vide the gazette notification dated May 28, 2021 as it is issued in contravention of section 5 and 6 of the Citizenship Act, 1955. To prohibit the “colourable exercise of power” by the Union of India in the guise of section 16 of the Citizenship Act, 1955.”

“On one hand, the Union government delaying the process of framing rule and on the other hand, the Union government arbitrarily issued the impugned order and attempting to implement CAA 2019 in the guise of Citizenship Rules which was framed in the year 2009, which cannot be made applicable qua the impugned order because 2009 Rules does not classify ‘any person’ into persecuted six minorities belongs to three countries nor it excludes the applicability to Muslims,” it added.

Thus, the whole exercise undertaken by the Union government is utterly illegal, PIL said.

The petition further stated that while petitions challenging the CAA are still pending before the top Court and the Ministry of Home Affairs issued an Order vide gazette notification dated May 28.

The Order utterly discriminates and deprives a class of persons namely, the Muslims and it does not withstand the test of Article 14 in asmuch as it treats people within a particular class i.e persons entitled to apply for citizenship by registration and naturalisation unequally by virtue of their religion, plea added.

Earlier the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) had also challenged the notification in the apex Court.