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‘Doesn’t encourage illegal migration’, govt urges SC to dismiss plea against CAA

Additionally, it vehemently defended the CAA’s exclusion of parts of Assam and other Northeastern states, claiming that this was done to “protect the ethnic/linguistic rights” of the locals and was “not discriminatory.”

The Ministry of Home Affairs stated in a thorough 150-page statement that it is a “focused law” that exclusively offers citizenship to members of six specific communities who arrived on or before December 31, 2014 and does not impair any Indian’s legal, political, or secular rights.

Ahead of the petition hearing on the controversial CAA, which had sparked protests in various parts of the country in late 2019 and early 2020 over alleged discriminatory provisions, it also stated that the current regime for foreigners obtaining citizenship of any country continues to be unaffected by the current law and that it remains the same.

On 31 October, a bench comprising Chief Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Bela M Trivedi will hear as many as 232 petitions, most of which are PILs, about the CAA.

The affidavit said that the law is “narrowly tailored” and only those migrants “belonging to the six specified communities from the three countries who had entered into India on or before December 31, 2014 will be covered by the provisions of this Amendment Act.”

“These migrants are already living in India. The Amendment Act does not have any provision which provides for the grant of citizenship to such migrants who would have come after December 31, till date or on any future date. It is respectfully submitted that the CAA, 2019 does not in any way encourage illegal migration into Assam,” it said.

According to the MHA, Parliament has the authority to enact legislation for all or a portion of India’s territory, as stated in Article 245 (1) of the Constitution, and policy-related disputes cannot be brought before a court of law.

“It is further submitted that this is a focused law that has a specific cut-off date of December 31, 2014. Therefore, only such migrants belonging to the six specified communities from the three countries who had entered into India on or before December 31, 2014 will be covered by the provisions of this Amendment Act,” it said.

According to Sumant Singh’s affidavit, a joint secretary in the MHA seeking for dismissal of pleas, there is no provision in the CAA that would have an impact on the distinctive language, script, or culture of people in Assam and other North-Eastern States.

The CAA only qualifies a class of foreigners who had sought refuge in India on or before December 31, 2014 due to persecution they had experienced in three specified countries due to their religion, the Center claimed. The Assamese people have the full right to conserve their language, script, or culture in accordance with the Constitution.

“It is submitted that CAA does not encourage any future influx of foreigners into India as it applies to past events and has no application in future. Therefore, CAA is not violative of ..the Constitution,” it said.

The Centre said the CAA facilitates the grant of citizenship to migrants belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who entered India on or before December 31, 2014.

The Passport (Entry into India Act, 1920) and other pertinent sections, as well as the rules enacted under the Foreigners Act, 1946, were cited as exempting certain individuals from the law’s application.

Additionally, it stated that these immigrants now reside in India and that no provision in the modified law provides for the granting of citizenship to such immigrants who would have arrived after the designated date or at any later time.

“It is respectfully submitted that the CAA does not in any way encourage illegal migration into Assam and therefore the petition that it has the potential to encourage illegal migration into Assam is unfounded,” it said.

It said the petitions are liable to be dismissed and reserved its right to file a more detailed affidavit at a later stage.

The MHA said the classification of tribal area of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the area covered under “The Inner Line” notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 has been made “on tangible material, historical reasons and the already prevalent classifications.”

“It is submitted that said classification of excluded areas is based on factors surrounding the fundamental differences in the population density, the constitutional obligation of protection of native culture, the economic and social inability/impact in case of mass migration and reasons concerning national security…,” it said.

The affidavit made reference to the Assam Accord and stated that special considerations for Assam and the other Northeastern states were taken into account when the CAA was passed in 2019.

It stated that the CAA is not exclusive to Assam and will apply to the entirety of the nation, with the exception of the tribal regions of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura that are listed in the Constitution’s Sixth Schedule and the areas covered by the “Inner Line” that were announced under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.

The Supreme Court gave the Center notice and requested a response by the second week of January 2020.

AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi, Congress politician Jairam Ramesh, RJD leader Manoj Jha, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, and the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) have all filed petitions about the matter.

(With inputs from PTI)

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