New Delhi: The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is "perfectly legal and constitutional", the government today told the Supreme Court, asserting that the citizenship law was a matter concerning the sovereign power of parliament and "could not be questioned" before the court.
"Only parliament has got sovereign powers to legislate on citizenship," said the government in a preliminary affidavit to the Supreme Court.
"Under Article 246 of the Constitution, the parliament has got the exclusive power to make laws with respect to any matters listed in the list One in 7th schedule, in that, item 17 is to do with citizenship and naturalisation of aliens," the Centre's affidavit argued, defending the controversial law at the heart of nationwide protests.
"The CAA does not impinge upon any existing rights of a citizen. It won't affect the legal, democratic or secular rights of people," it asserted, reiterating that the law does not take away citizenship but is about giving citizenship.
The CAA, said the government, did not relate to any Indian. "Neither does it create any citizenship to them nor takes it away," it added.
The court is hearing scores of petitions challenging that CAA, passed in parliament in December, which enables Indian citizenship for non-Muslim minorities from neighbouring Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan if they fled religious persecution and entered India before 2015. Critics fear that the law is discriminatory and will leave thousands of Muslims stateless.
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