No state can refuse to implement the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 as the legislation was enacted under the Union List of the 7th Schedule of the Constitution, a top official of the home ministry said today. The statement comes after chief ministers of five states -- West Bengal, Punjab, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh -- said that the law is "unconstitutional" and has no place in their respective states.
"The states have no powers to deny implementation of a central law which is in the Union List," the official said. The issue of Citizenship comes under the Union List by 7th Schedule of the Constitution, such amendment is applicable to all states, he added.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath accused the Union government of practising "politics of distractions" and said the Citizenship Act was amended to divert people's attention from the country's economic slowdown.
Lashing out at the BJP-led central government over the amended Citizenship Act, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she would not allow its implementation in the state "under any circumstances". She said the saffron party can't bulldoze the states to implement the law.
Top legal experts have also questioned the stance adopted by opposition-ruled states, as they pointed out that awarding citizenship is the prerogative of the Centre.
Former Attorney General of India Soli Sorabjee said that it was “unwise of the states to boycott the Citizenship Bill.” Advocate Sai Deepak backed the Citizenship Bill and said that he didn’t find any infirmities with the CAB. He added that the Bill didn’t violate Article 14 or suffer from any unconstitutionality.
President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday gave his assent to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, turning it into an Act. According to an official notification, the Act comes into effect with its publication in the official gazette on Thursday.
According to the Act, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014 and facing religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed by Rajya Sabha on Wednesday and by Lok Sabha on Monday.
The Act says the refugees of the six communities will be given Indian citizenship after residing in India for five years, instead of earlier requirement of 11 years. The Act also proposes to give immunity to such refugees facing legal cases after being found as illegal migrants.
According to the legislation, it will not be applicable to the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and in the areas covered under the Inner Line Permit, notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.