Supreme Court | Manisha Mondal/ThePrint
Supreme Court | Manisha Mondal/ThePrint
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For Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, the numbers – 311 and 80 – don’t matter much. These are the numbers of Lok Sabha MPs who voted for and against the passage of the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. What the Supreme Court will do to this bill doesn’t matter either to these two men.

For Modi and Amit Shah, the real numbers that matter are 96.63 crores and 17.22 crores – the population of Hindus and Muslims in India as per the 2011 census data. Add to it 2.78 crore Christians, 2.08 crore Sikhs, 0.84 crore Buddhists and 0.45 crore Jains – all communities that have been clubbed alongside Hindus in the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill or CAB – and the Modi-Shah duo would have gone to bed satisfied after the passage of the Bill in the Lok Sabha at midnight.

In fact, they wouldn’t be too worried if the CAB now gets stalled in the Rajya Sabha or by the Supreme Court. Their unstated purpose, which becomes more clear if one also takes into consideration the nation-wide National Register of Citizens (NRC), is to convey that Muslims have no place in India.


Also read: Citizenship Bill has only one aim: protect non-Muslims, harass Muslims


If the parliament passes it, the theatre is likely to shift to the Supreme Court. Even in Parliament, the constitutionality of the bill, vis-à-vis Article 14, was questioned. But there are many who feel that the Supreme Court, where the legal challenge to the amendments will most certainly be heard if and when the CAB becomes the law after being passed by the Rajya Sabha and receiving the assent of the President, would rule against the amendments for not being in line with the Constitution.

The Supreme Court in several cases, particularly in S.R. Bommai versus Union of India, has held secularism to be part of the basic structure of the Constitution.

It would be naïve to think that Narendra Modi and Amit Shah aren’t aware of this possibility of a judicial review. They would have been made aware by their legal advisers. But, for them, the hope is that the 96.63 crore Hindus would see them, once again, as the real saviours of the majority community, who have been nursing a sense of having been victimised because the BJP’s Hindutva rhetoric tells them so.

Technicalities about the CAB being unconstitutional wouldn’t have stopped this government from taking a shot at what is clearly a vote-catching move.

Just wait till either the Prime Minister or the Home Minister publicly questions political parties that opposed the CAB and cast them as anti-Hindu and pro-Muslim.


Also read: Congress wore 1971 war trophy, but left an unfinished business. CAB came out of that


Why the proposed is law problematic

The most important criticism of the Citizenship Bill is that it doesn’t meet the standard set in Article 14 of the Constitution. The Supreme Court has, beginning with the landmark judgment of 1973 in Kesavananda Bharati versus State of Kerala case, repeatedly held that while amending any constitutional provision, Parliament can’t tinker with the basic structure of the Constitution.

Since the amendments proposed under the CAB can’t possibly clear the test of Article 14, which bars the state from discriminating against on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, a good lawyer shouldn’t have much difficulty in convincing the court about the legal infirmities in the amendments.

All that they will have to tell the court is that the CAB’s real motive is to make religious discrimination an intrinsic part of our legal system.

However, in light of the recent track-record of the Supreme Court in handling issues involving the Constitution, the response and timing of the top court can’t be predicted. Gone are the days when we could expect with certainty that our top constitutional court would open its doors after midnight to consider the mercy plea of even a convicted terrorist – Yakub Menon.

Now, forget swift intervention in cases where the Constitution and constitutional values are at stake – Article 370, ban on internet and media gag in Kashmir, Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case – even a delayed judicial intervention isn’t a given.


Also read: BJP’s citizenship bill bringing back Partition nightmare has no place in 2019 India


Incidentally, while the latest bill proposes to amend Section 6 of the original Act, a legal challenge to Section 6A, which lays down the criteria for granting citizenship to persons from erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) as per the Assam Accord, is still pending before a Constitution bench of the Supreme Court.

Among the issued pending adjudication before the bench is whether a citizen of another country can be granted Indian citizenship without first formally giving up citizenship of their original country. Otherwise, it could become a case of dual citizenship, something barred under the Indian Constitution.

But, even if the Supreme Court does intervene and decide to strike down the unconstitutional amendments to the Citizenship Bill, Modi-Shah would not have too much to worry about. The BJP has already achieved the real purpose behind the contentious exercise – divide and rule.

The author is a senior journalist. Views are personal.

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20 Comments Share Your Views

20 COMMENTS

  1. I had seen a lot of comments here……
    I am ashamed to see this much foolish people in india(i mean the people who commented).
    India is a country which got freedom due to hardships of thousands of hindus muslims sikhs etccc….
    Is modi going to declare abdul kalam as terrorist?? What a foolish pm?
    Is a simple teaseller gonnna tell that our isro chairperson and president was an anti indian.
    Let the muslims show their documents but only after teaseller show his original sslc documents😂😂😂.
    I am not humiliating bjp or any others ,why u guys support modiii.
    Guys please think,it our country(to those who commented) don’t try to throw away its purity for any teaseller.
    Even in social books we study,india is the land of all religions.
    I heard some people say muslims are not citizens,they were here before 1947…. after that only it become a country….. so they are citizens and dont call the writer fool he is using his full brain as he found the mystery behind nrc… others please thinkkkk

    Thanks
    Seriously writing

  2. they killed the northeast citizen to form a new citizens and votes. this is the government we applauded for what kind of citizens we have become we are letting a religion take over our country and let alone die equality for all

  3. The ‘APEX COURT’, I a backbencher &failure for most of my life , looked up at apex things and then hang my head in shame and while walking ,due to shame ,walked in a zigzag manner not knowing from whence to where I was going. I Know realize It shouldn’t have been so , apex heights achieved and kept were due to among other things ,a proper price paid.

  4. The writer seems to be hired by isi to create anti india narrative.gadhe CAB is not for existing indian citizens but for minority refugees coming from e neighbouring Islamic states.Why r u pedalling false hood?the majority community has seen how muslims r even not prepared to give hindus ramjanma bhoomi land which is birthplace of lord ram.despite apex court judgement for temple they have filed dozen review petitions.muslims always put salt on the majority community wounds to derive maximum pleasure.

  5. Rightly so, they know the country is very very ocile and it can put up with anything.. After all 1000 years of slavery does not happen in every country.

  6. I don’t think the apex court will have any problem with the amendment.

    “Basic features” is not what the Constitution lays down but the apex court’s interpretation (by a 7/6 narrow majority). A larger bench can always overturn this as well as S R Bommai decision.

    And word “secularism” wss smughled into the preamble of the Constitution by Indira Gandhi (along with “socialism”) during the dark days of the Emergency.

  7. The apex court should live up to its finest traditions. The legal / constitutional challenges to CAB are clear to an undergraduate student of law, as indeed to any Indian who has read the Preamble. The tenure of CJI Ranjan Gogoi will not be remembered with affection and respect. He would have found a way to uphold CAB.

  8. The article doesn’t make any realistic analysis. CAB is not likely to enthuse Hindu voters. On the contrary, the entire North-East is protesting, while the rest of India is simply unconcerned. CAB will not influence state elections, as the BJP is realising in Jharkhand.

  9. If Article 14 bars the state from discriminating against on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. How come religious minorities enjoy special privileges in building and running their Hospital trusts, educational institutions? Why there is special provisions for granting scholarships to religious minorities? AMU is an example.

  10. CAB!!! what is the problem??

    People from the Indian subcontinent – a distinct civilization – living in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Islamic Republic of Bangladesh and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – and NOT following the Arabic ideology – are welcome back into India.
    .
    What is the problem??
    .
    Note that Article 14 or any Article for that matter of the Indian Constitution is applicable only to Indian Citizens – it does not apply to say US citizens. And migrants before being granted citizenships – are foreigners.
    .
    Tribals, Tree worshippers, Stone worshippers, Sun worshippers, fire-worshippers, Pagans, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Jews, Christians and ATHEISTs – illiterate or otherwise, skilled or otherwise – speaking in 100s of different languages, different eating and dressing habits, can migrate out from these three ISLAMIC republics to India…for freedom and for life.
    .
    Note that – it is a punishable offence to be an Atheist in all – Arabic ideology countries.
    .
    Note that, only urban educated migrate (rather escape) to the US or Canada – for a better life – from India. Non-skilled cannot even dream of migrating to our modern-day heavens,
    .
    We should all celebrate. Note that, there is no blasphemy law in India.
    .
    Allah, the most merciful and compassionate, will bless the Gujarati Bhai….for protecting HER creation.
    .
    Welcome HOME.

    • Article 14 of the Indian Constitution states: “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.” Everywhere else, the Constitution specifically says “citizen” not “person”, when referring to Indian citizens. The fact that it uses “person” here instead of “citizen” is important, isn’t it?

    • And where exactly will they be made to reside? In which particular part of India will they make their home? Would you be so kind as to enlighten me please.

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