CAA pleas: SC says no stay without hearing Centre, gives govt 4 weeks to respond

NEW DELHI, Jan 22: Making clear it will not stay the Citizenship (Amendment) Act without hearing the Centre, the Supreme Court on Wednesday gave the government four weeks to respond to petitions challenging the CAA and said a five-judge Constitution bench will hear the matter.
Hearing a batch of 143 petitions, an apex court bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde issued notice to the Centre and restrained all high courts from hearing pleas on the CAA till it decides on the pleas.
The bench, also comprising Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna, said it will hear the petitions pertaining to Assam and Tripura separately as the problem with the CAA in these two states is different from rest of the country.
“The matter is uppermost in everybody”s mind. We will form a five-judge bench and then list the case,” the court said.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for some petitioners, said the issue be referred to a Constitution bench and the NPR exercise be postponed by a couple of months. He also urged the bench to put on hold the operationalisation of the CAA.
The bench said, “Even we think that the matter should be heard by a Constitution bench.”
Asserting that it will not grant any stay on the CAA without hearing the Centre on the matter, it said, “Will pass order on granting any interim relief to petitioner opposing CAA after four weeks.”
The court also made it clear it will not pass any ex-parte order without hearing the Centre on staying the operation of the CAA and exercise of the National Population Register (NPR).
It said the earlier cut off date for citizenship in Assam was March 24, 1971 and noted that it has been extended till December 31, 2014 under the CAA.
The petitions concerning Tripura and Assam as well as the matters related to Uttar Pradesh, which is going ahead with the implementation of CAA without framing any rules, can be dealt with separately, the bench said.
The bench said it will decide in-chamber the modalities of hearing the batch of petitions on the CAA and may fix them for day-to-day hearing after four weeks.
Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, told the bench the government has been given copies of around 60 pleas out of the 143 petitions. He said it wanted time to respond to all the pleas.
The CAA seeks to grant citizenship to migrants belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Jain and Parsi communities who came to the country from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan on or before December 31, 2014.
President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on December 12, turning it into an Act. (PTI)