Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of India | Manisha Mondal/ThePrint
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Just four days before the 70th anniversary of the Republic of India, the Supreme Court has served a grim reminder. The battle to reclaim the republic will have to be fought by the public.

The much-awaited hearing of petitions opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA, turned out to be a routine affair with little consequence, just as many legal experts had feared. Attorney General K.K. Venugopal pleaded for more time to respond to 143 petitions. The court gave the Narendra Modi government another four weeks. The petitioners asked for a stay on the operation of the CAA and the National Population Register (NPR), or at least their postponement by a few months. The Supreme Court showed its unwillingness to currently engage with this issue.

To be sure, there is nothing wrong with the Supreme Court order per se. The court limited itself to procedural issues and passed an order that did not pre-judge the matter. This issue does deserve a constitutional bench, to which the court has indicated it may refer the anti-CAA hearings. The Modi government did need time to respond to more than 140 petitions. The plea for a stay on the CAA and the NPR was not turned down, just postponed to the next hearing. And it was only logical to ask the high courts not to hear the petitions while the Supreme Court was seized of the matter.

Also read: In 2020, don’t rely on routine rallies and marches. Modi’s India needs new ways to protest

Ignoring citizens’ fears

But this is no ordinary matter. The legal battle over the CAA is about protecting the letter, the spirit and the very soul of the Indian Constitution. I am no lawyer. But as a student of political science who studied the Indian Constitution, I would have imagined that the CAA is an open-and-shut case of brazen violation of everything that the Indian Constitution stands for. If so, I would have expected the Supreme Court to take a different approach.

I would not expect or even wish the judiciary to respond to the massive anti-CAA movement all over India. But, is it unfair to expect the judges to find a way to address the fear that the CAA has generated in the minds of crores of Indians at the country’s social and geographic margins? The hearing-as-usual approach is unlikely to inspire confidence at a time when people are desperately looking for assurance from the constitutional order.

We must, of course, wait for the future proceedings before coming to a definite conclusion. But one lesson is becoming clear. Today’s Supreme Court is not the bulwark to defend the Constitution that it was designed to be. It may still occasionally offer small relief. But it does not have what it would take to defend the Constitution in the face of this aggressive Modi regime. The present Supreme Court appears to be a reluctant warrior in the battle to defend the Constitution, going by recent pronouncements. Sometimes it is hard to say which side the honourable judges are in this battle, legal observers have said.

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Also read: Shaheen Bagh, Jamia, JNU protests show Indian women are far better leaders than we admit

It’s down to the public

So, the principal site in the ongoing battle to reclaim the republic will not be the courts or Parliament or any of the designated institutional spaces. The struggle will have to be taken to the streets following a democratic and non-violent path. The public must reclaim the republic. We, the People of India, who gave to ourselves this Constitution, must come to its defence.

This is what the ongoing movement for equal citizenship is all about. Now that the court hearing is behind us, and a long legal battle lies ahead, it is a moment to sit back and reflect on the future course of this nation-wide movement. In a sense, this moment marks the completion of the first phase of the anti-CAA-NRC-NPR movement. For most parts of India, this phase concludes with a country-wide human chain, planned by various organisations and coalitions on 30 January. Uttar Pradesh may be an exception, because anti-CAA protests there have just resumed after a month of police clampdown on any form of protest. It is time now to think about the second phase of the movement.

The first phase of the movement has already accomplished what could not be imagined a month ago. First of all, it has broken the spiral of silence, especially for the Muslim community, which has spent the last six years in a state of deep anxiety. The community has found its voice and self-confidence. Second, the anti-CAA movement has achieved a vast footprint, rarely matched by any other movement. Third, it has tapped into the spontaneity of the people, with political leaders and organisations trying to catch up with them. The participation of women and youth is a noteworthy achievement of lasting value. Fourth, a new set of leaders have emerged everywhere, often sidelining the established clergy and political leadership. Fifth, the movement has led to an extraordinary spurt in creativity, both in communication and in ground action.

Also read: Who represents India’s Muslims? Thanks to CAA protests, we now know the answer

Merge, align, spread out, fight

Yet, it is too early to celebrate. If the Modi regime has dug its heels on the CAA, it is because the government still hopes to recover from the loss of legitimacy that it has suffered. While its attempt to paint the entire movement as the handiwork of unruly Muslim mobs has not succeeded, the fact remains that an overwhelming proportion of protesters outside the northeast are Muslims. While there have been very powerful rallies and demonstrations, these shows of strength are likely to evoke fear rather than empathy. While spontaneity has been the strength of the movement and there are no signs of tiredness, the various protests can and do work at cross purposes. The three strands of the movement – protests in Assam, by the Muslim community, and of the youth – are not quite aligned with one another.

After 30 January, following the nation-wide human chain, the anti-CAA movement will enter the second phase. The focus of action must shift from big mobilisation in cities and large towns to smaller towns and villages. The focus of communication must shift from those who are already converts and those who are directly affected to the rest of the population, mainly Hindus who do not feel directly threatened by the new citizenship law. Special attention must be given to Dalits, Adivasis and the nomadic communities that stand to lose most from the new regulations. In choosing the form of protest, premium should be placed on Shaheen Bagh-types of protests, which can evoke empathy among the rest of India’s population. The movement must find its own positive agenda, beyond opposing the NPR-NRC and the CAA. It must connect with the widely felt economic distress. The movement for equal citizenship must also become a movement for a renewal of the idea of India.

The author is the national president of Swaraj India. Views are personal.

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52 Comments Share Your Views


  1. Every democratic country on the planet has a policy for refugees and a policy for infiltrators, that too administered only by the central or federal govt. of the country. A non-Muslim in a muslim majority country is considered a refugee if he/she is persecuted. On the other hand, a muslim in a muslim majority country cannot claim persecution based on his religious faith and he /she is considered an infiltrator. So, in what way is this religious discrimination is beyond logic and rational thought. Only in India we are having this stupid protests over a well thought CAA bill, not to mention the fact that muslims are pampered like anything in this country. Just go and take a look how they behave in USA, UK, Europe, Australia, Canada etc. Compare that to how they behave in India with just 17% of the population. They behave like thugs, mob, destroying public property paid by the tax payers.

    As for this author, a slap on his face is the right thing to do, for his brazen call for civil war. Only in India such fools are entertained and because of these fools, India continue to be a developing country rather than a developed nation.


  3. Mr Yadav, while admitting adequate knowledge of law not being a lawyer himself, has still gone to the extent of appealing people to come to street in a matter which is sub judice in the highest court. This is nothing less than intimidation of judiciary, and total lack of faith in our constitutional processes, which he and his activists friend ostensibly want to defend. Less said the better.

  4. These hypocrites are born to destroy the nation. So as per these so called secularists allow all Muslims from the three countries and destroy the nation. Media has become a shit, including your media. Highlight the pros & cons and then analyse. If, the S C start hearing in the midnight it is good for them and if, not S C is behaving badly. Democracy is in danger. Shit Yogendra Yadav, he wants power nothing but absolute power to destroy the nation.


  6. He is recommending anarchy, destruction of the system of conflict resolution laid down by the Constitution to protect the Constitution supposedly in danger when CAA doesn’t affect any citizen of India. He wants to foment protest and disorder by misleading the people into fighting for foreigners. His article belongs to the dustbin.

  7. Nobody is stopping Yogendra Yadav and his supporters from not protesting. This time they should protest by fasting until death.

  8. Can any one of the legal luminary explain the importance and implications 0f it —– if the Parliament of India or any one chamber of it passed a regulation condemning or disapproving the law enacted by any of the state Assembly of any of the states of India , say by Kerala or Punjab ? Will it remain enforceable or have moral strength ? After all the national Parliament is some notch above provincial assemblies. The overdose of opposition posturing against CAA is leading to paradoxical situation . Why the all organs of the Indian State—central legislature, Judiciary, Executive and state level Assemblies can operate within boundaries which are demarcated clearly in the constitution ?

    Now on current agitation — The current agitation against CAA is based on some hypothetical conjectures that it excludes minorities . Does that alleged minority belong to India ? Actually it excludes the class — which is majority community in their own countries . But still If they are un fortunatively victimized in their own countries they are not debarred to immigrate to India. Their waiting period for naturalization remains same as was existing prior to passage and current enactment of CAA. Why leaders opposing CAA have not demanded from the earlier Governments of their liking to extend red-carpet welcome to immigrants belong to majority community of Pakistan etc .?
    The sane leaders belonging to opposition parties should stop short-sighted posturing. This may boom rage on them as Majority community is watching them critically.

  9. If the CAA was debated in both houses of the parliament and passed then where is the democracy in danger? If this is the system given by the constitution where is the constitution being trampled upon. The likes of Yadavs and Varmas need to go to the people in the next election saying that elect us and we will scrap the CAA.
    People have elected this Government for 5 years let them screw it up and see if you get your chance to unscrew it.
    We lived with the Non-BJP dispensations for 70 years let the present dispensation have its time.
    If the Modi government was as destructive and stupid as you think it would have been thrown out in last election.
    THe courts will decide all your issues of 370 /35A and CAA so wait till then, unless you think the courts could be pressurised.
    On one hand we talk about economy not doing well and on the other hand we contribute to by wasting time money and destruction on of public property.

    • Where is the democratic maturity of citizens… Gentleman, Democracy is not just about simply electing someone in power every five years and keep mum till next elections to get another chance.

    • “If the CAA was debated in both houses of the parliament and passed then where is the democracy in danger?” – Democracy is in danger, and the constitution is trampled upon by this UNCONSTITUTIONAL LAW CALLED CAA. Both the houses passed the law doesn’t mean it is constitutional. Do you think all those who have filed some 140 PILs against this law are fools? Do you think the supreme court is also fool to entertain such PILs if everything was fine because it was passed by both the houses of the parliament? You have to educate yourself. Courts have thrown out many laws passed by both the houses of the parliament because they were unconstitutional, and hence “illegal”! Recently the supreme court declared that the closedown of the internet services by this government elected by the people for five years WAS UNCONSTITUTIONAL BECAUSE IT VIOLATED THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLE.

      “If the Modi government was as destructive and stupid as you think it would have been thrown out in last election.” – NOT TRUE AT ALL. Ignorant voters may keep electing the government that is no good. The voters kept electing the communist government in Bengal for 34 years in a row even though it wasn’t doing any good to the state.

  10. 1. Supreme court verdict on divorced woman alimony was turned by Congress government on Shah Bano case? Was not that religious? Was not that blatant mockery of constitution?
    2. Indira Gandhi changed almost entire constitution of India during emergency. Why then no body from Muslim community staged protest to save the constitutions?
    3. Words lime ‘socialist’, ‘secular’ words were forcefully inserted by Congress during emergency. These were not there in our original constitution. Socialism is a political ideology. How come some ones ideology be a part of constitution? Is not that unconstitutional? Why no protest on that?
    4. Ministry such Ministry of Minority affairs was created by Congress to funnel crores of tax payers money to so called second largest mojority just for vote bank politics. Is that not unconstitutional?
    5. Article 370 was inserted in the constitution depriving many Hindus and Dalits rights in J&K for decades for vote back politics. Was not that unconstitutional?

    CAA has been passed by both houses in Parliament. It has nothing to do with any Indian citizen. Will these protesting people on streets form their own laws on streets? Then what for SC is there?

  11. Reading through the comments, people say he’s a rabble rouser and should shut up etc etc.
    And I say you should go back to your villages, become illiterate and give all your mazdoori to the gora saabs. For freedom, education and the pride in being Indian that was fought for by those original batch of rabble rousers, terrorists and ideological guerrillas – our freedom fighters is wasted upon you. Freedom of speech, expression, religion and in general not be oppressed by the state and keep saying “jee huzoor” and “you’re the greatest, there’s no one better than you” to the state to keep your hide.
    You may or may not agree with what he or anyone else says but if you can threaten and ask them to shut up, the same can happen to you. Today you’re the one wanting to oppress someone tomorrow you’ll be the oppressed.
    I thought as good Hindus you’d know how karma works.

  12. The protest movement against CAA is nothing but continuation of and re start of agenda of 1939 of Muslim league . It is surprising that many JNU produced intellectuals are pretending not to understand this . The utterances from Hyderabad are too roaring to ignore. It is not anti modi, It is anti Indian. Wake up India Wake up.

  13. SC need not pre-judge and may be right in giving time to respond but promptness and timely judgementb is essence of any verdict . Efficacy of working of judiciary is judged by as they say justice delayed is justice denied.It is evident there appears to be some sort of confluence of thought to wear out the protesters.

  14. India is going through an ideological shift moving from left to right. It is understandable that folks on the center-left are pained and desperate to prevent this movement. The situation for them is like a fish out of water. NPR and NRC are policy decisions. CAA does give pretext due to the mention of specific religions to challenge in courts, however, the recent statements from Kapil Sibal shows nervousness, there is also a 50/50 possibility that courts may rule it in govt favor. This was always a public issue, it is an ideological issue, bringing in courts and putting pressure on courts for ideological issues has the risk of dividing courts on ideological lines like in the US. It also seems center-left is falling into the trap of grossly overestimating itself, ideologically center-left/left is loosing badly – Yogendra has not won any elections, Kanhaiya lost by 4 lakhs votes, Maharastra was an ideological win for BJP/Shiv Sena, Jharkhand was not an ideological win for left, Delhi is not an ideological fight, hindi heartland is center-right by heart. After 70 years, India is center-right by heart, this is what center-right organizations will rejoice irrespective of who forms the govts in center, state, municpality. Herein lies the challenge for the center-left. One question they should ask is – if there was good news on economic front what would be the state of current protest? It will be a hard grind to move India back to the center. Thinking that govt has lost legitimacy will not help.

  15. Protest and stubbornness seems synonymous now. If one becomes so righteous that every other institution starts looking like not doing its job then the person has fascist tendencies. What we should now make of democracy that we just voted to power nine months back.
    The only institution to decide if an act is within the fame of constitution or not is SC. So when things don’t go in ones favor we can its corrupt. What can be make of this view point if not fascist then what ?

  16. Another case of “Tatiq pe tariq”….the testing time comes for the agitators in country!!Govt. as well as judiciary will follow its course of action, people should continue the protests as usual !! Should not be died down the issue,comrades!!!

  17. This is a highly provocative post by Yogendra and his purpose clearly seems to instigate further protests and resultant violence and to bring SC into disrepute by alleging bias by the Judges. SC knows what it is doing and they have used their considered judgment when they did not agree for stay on CAA. All should respect SC’s judgement and in its impartiality otherwise there is no need to go to SC. Yogendra can on street and do whatever he wants to do. One can understand that many do not agree with CAA and/or NRC but we ought to follow the democratic route by first going to SC and then if the decision is not in their favor, then wait for the next election and vote BJP out. It took 70 years for CAA to come and having come, it can be on the statue books for next 4 years before it can be repealed by the next government.

    • A brute majority doesn’t give license to make arbitrary laws.Forget it,it is a democracy and ppl have every right to protest.History is replete with incidents including our very own freedom struggle against imperialism.

  18. The author’s position, regardless of logic, boils down to ‘we must protest against the government’. They expect the SC “to address the fear that the CAA has generated in the minds of crores of Indians” without questioning where this fear arose from. Is the judiciary India’s therapist?

    They then go into the berate the SC for following proper procedure, recognizing the requirements for delay, but insisting the delay is based on misplaced notions of the SC’s inability to defend the Constitution, while admitting they aren’t a legal expert, let alone a Constitutional expert.

    And if the the fear mongering isn’t clear as yet, they go on to suggest that Tribals, SC & ST, and Nomadic communities somehow will magically lose their citizenship because the Central Government is going to use the entire State machinery against them.

    The author is right in one sense though. The protestors should consider adopting a positive position. What do they want? I think that would be useful in addressing their concerns and would be solution oriented. Prima facie, the menagerie of signs translate as an illogical anti-government stance. When pressed to describe why they are on the streets, the protesters don’t inspire any coherent aim.

    To this aim, the PM should address this issue head on. They should consider talking to the protesters and asking what they want. The protesters should frame their wants in a positive manner.

  19. Yes Mr Yadav, you got it right, you are no lawyer. You are not even a politician of any substance, your entire party gone less than 100 votes. You are just a paid political commentator who has no connect with the ground reality. So don’t comment on the Supreme Court procedure, And just because a few comedians like yourself are protesting, don’t expect the SC to take your line

  20. Why this blind love for the opposition.
    Government has done a right job.
    And your fickle mind gets something to write the same thing which is utter non sense.

  21. The urban naxals are getting desperate! They have been used to putting pressure on the SC and getting their way – even in the middle of the night. An independent SC is new territory for them.


  23. A sure case of lazy writing. The author forgets that not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done. A fast-tracking of a case due to protests means every time a section of India wants to have judgements, they will fight it out on the streets rather than utilize all the process and procedures available with them. If it took only public opinion, then the Nirbaya convicts would have been castrated and hanged in public. A Raja and Co would have been locked in the prison forever based on presumptive losses no one till date completely comprehends.

    The battle of wits needs to be fought in the Courts of India. If justice is delayed, it needs to be highlighted and public opinion should be raised to fix it. Instant justice will only lead to ANARCHY. Something I feel the author prefers when he is instigating the readers to go back on the streets. I worry for that day since no one can predict the way the larger public would feel about Indian minorities and the minorities from the 3 countries mentioned in the bill. Lawyers like Harish Salve looks confident that this law would stand the scrutiny of the court which further confuses a large majority of population on what exactly is the intent behind the protests?

  24. It is an open and shut case. 140 petitions or 1,400 does not change the obligation of the Respondents to explain and justify the clear legal challenge the new law poses to the basic, secular, non discriminatory nature of the Constitution. This is the sort of crystal clear case where the lawyers on both sides do not need to get a sore throat, arguing at length in Delhi’s foul air. The plain text of the Constitution on one side, of the CAA on the other, and it is possible to come to fair, inescapable conclusions. 2. By a sad coincidence, today’s hearing comes on the same day that news reports appeared that the lady staffer who claimed to have been sexually harassed by Shri Ranjan Gogoi has been reinstated. This would not have been done if she had filed a false complaint or been part of some sinister conspiracy to undermine the independence of the judiciary. Not a good feeling about the institution Indians have come to trust and respect more than any other.

  25. While giving time to government, SC could have directed the government to keep implementation of CAA on hold to be fair to those who have approached court for justice.

  26. 1. I say that all intellectuals and other individuals, who may be politicians, lawyers, academics or others and who are speaking against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Population Register (NPR), are basically opposed to whatever the NDA government is doing. Their opposition to BJP and RSS dominates their thinking on subjects of CAA and NPR and hence they do not have an open, unbiased mind and an impartial approach to issues related to migration. 2. One major step which these intellectuals, lawyers etc. can take it is to persuade the Congress party, which is supporting the anti-CAA agitation, to give an assurance to voters that as and when the party (on its own or as part of UPA) is voted to power in the Centre, Congress govt. will repeal CAA and also welcome the oppressed Shia Muslims of Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc. to India. I think this is the best possible way for all intellectuals to demonstrate their love for India’s democracy. Are they ready to take this major step?

  27. The so called educationist intellectual from JNU is in this chaotic business of rallies, dharnas, destabilising since long and earning his 🍞 bread and butter. He thinks himself champion of all political melodrama and found fault in even legal system on decisions that doesn’t suit them or not as per their wishes. He needs hardest slap and shut up.

  28. The so called educationist intellectual from JNU is in this chaotic business of rallies, dharnas, destabilising since long and earning his 🍞 bread and butter. He thinks himself champion of all political melodrama and found fault in even legal system on decisions that doesn’t suit them or not as per their wishes. He needs hardest slap and shut up.

    • ‘reports appeared that the lady staffer who claimed to have been sexually harassed by Shri Ranjan Gogoi has been reinstated. This would not have been done if she had filed a false complaint or been part of some sinister conspiracy to undermine the independence of the judiciary”

  29. Very well said. The movement is led by women and rightly so since women will very likely be the “collateral damage” in this game. be but so far the resistance has not tapped into the anger against deep-rooted patriarchy, enabled by the current power-holders, that makes the current rape-epidemic possible. that is another link that we need forge.

  30. “But as a student of political science who studied the Indian Constitution, I would have imagined that the CAA is an open-and-shut case of brazen violation of everything that the Indian Constitution stands for. If so, I would have expected the Supreme Court to take a different approach.” is your statement and I have no objection to say u have been a bad student. I am not a lawyer nor have I read constitution but I was curious to know about article 14 , at the first sight I thought CAA is unconstitutional than I realized article 14 is about non discrimination is among equals and positive discrimination among unequals. That is why reservation of Mandal comm is justified. You should do your home work also by listening to legal luminaries like Salve. You can do your politics but u r not going to get votes on creating riots and disturbances and misleading innocent public. Shame on you

    • Salve’s spin was made to suit the government of which he is a staunch supporter at the expense of well known and accepted legal principles . Equality among equals is a dangerous theory and if you stretch the way Salve has interpreted it( I am not equal to say the PM and either I or PM can be discriminated merely on this basis) catastrophe is awaiting India . The letter & spirit of Indian constitution is one of humaneness . By the logic of Salve a Brahmins,Dalits and Banias , Kannadigas, Tamils and Malayalis etc are not equal to each other and the logic can be stretched to ridiculous levels

  31. Recently Justice Srikrishna said ‘Judiciary in India has broken and until repaired illegalities like Rapes etc will continue,’

  32. The writer is a rabble rouser. He does not believe in lawful and constitutional methods. Learn from revolutions world over. They topple existing system, but generally fail to bring an acceptable new system, starting with French Revolution.

  33. It’s sad that the Supreme Court has become a spectator rather than a protector of democracy.

    There needs to be an article as to why this has happened. Why are the Supreme Court judges not the defenders of law but instead prefer being the enforcers for the government.


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