The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has filed an application in the Supreme Court against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019.
This rare intervention by the topmost world body on human rights drew a strong response from the Ministry of External Affairs which argued that the the law was an internal matter of India. The controversial citizenship bill enacted on December 11, 2019, promises amnesty for undocumented migrants belonging to the non-Muslim faiths from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Critics say that the law is discriminatory in essence.
‘CAA is constitutionally valid’
“We are clear that the CAA is constitutionally valid and complies with all requirements of our constitutional values. It is reflective of our long-standing national commitment in respect of human rights issues arising from the tragedy of Partition of India. We strongly believe that no foreign party has any locus standi on issues pertaining to India’s sovereignty,” said the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Tuesday.
The Permanent Mission of India in Geneva was informed on Monday evening by the office of Michelle Bachelet, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, that it had filed an “intervention application in respect to the 2019 Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)”. Ms. Bachelet had been expressing her concern about the fallout of both the CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) on India’s population in recent months. Earlier, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres also said that the CAA and the NRC had the potential to turn India’s Muslims into stateless subjects.
Former External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh has described the U.N. rights body’s move as “absolutely unprecedented in the diplomatic history of India”. “As far as my memory goes, this is the first time the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights has come to the Supreme Court of India,” said Mr. Singh, who served as a career diplomat and then as the External Affairs Minister of India.
Former Permanent Representative of India at the United Nations Chinmaya Gharekhan agreed with Mr. Singh and said, “This is also objectionable as U.N. is an intergovernmental body and they are not supposed to approach the Supreme Court of India.”
“We are confident that our sound and legally sustainable position would be vindicated by the Honourable Supreme Court”, the official spokesperson of MEA argued.
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