NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has on Wednesday refused to stay the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Population Register (NPR) until the Centre is heard on the matter.
A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, Justice S Abdul Nazeer and Justice Sanjiv Khanna is hearing 144 petitions challenging the amended Citizenship act and NPR has granted four weeks’ time to the central government to reply. The court has also restrained high courts from passing any order on the matter, said a Hindustan Times report.
The hearing on the petitions was delayed due to jam-packed room. Attorney General Venugopal says there are 140 odd petitions but only 60 petitions have been served on union.
Senior counsel Kapil Sibal says matter might have to be heard by Constitution Bench. Sibal further states that the process to grant citizenship should be postponed for two or three months while the court hears the case.
The Attorney General opposed grant of any interim relief saying centre should be heard before any interim order is passed. Sibal says postpone process under the Act but the Attorney General argued that postponing CAA is as good as a stay. Fix a date and we will argue it, AG said.
Senior advocate KV Viswanathan says postponing implementation of process is not same as stay. “If in NPR anybody is marked as doubtful, then that person could be disenfranchised and that is the concern. It is not a concern of minority alone but of majority as well,” says Vishwanathan.
The court hinted at setting up a five-Judge Bench to hear the case. The matter will be listed after five weeks for interim orders. The CJI said some small matters may be heard in chamber by the Court and for this, one or two persons on each side may be deputed by the leading Counsel.
He stated that the challenge to CAA will have to be bifurcated in two sections - one concerning Tripura and Assam and another one concerning CAA generally. The Court hinted that it will look at the Assam issue differently. However it has clarified that the same is for Court's benefit and all the matters will be heard together (with inputs from Bar & Bench).