States Have No Powers To Refuse Implementation Of Citizenship Act And NPR: Official
State governments have no powers to reject the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act as the legislation was enacted under the Union List of the 7th Schedule of the Constitution, and the National Population Register which is to be carried out next year, a top official said on Friday.
The statement came after chief ministers of West Bengal, Punjab, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh announced that the CAA was "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 Home Ministry official said.
There are 97 items under the Union List of the 7th Schedule and they include Defence, External Affairs, Railways, Citizenship and Naturalisation.
Referring to NPR, which will be carried out along with the census exercise next year, the official said no state can refuse to carry out the process as it will be done as per the Citizenship Act.
The NPR is a register of usual residents of the country. It is being prepared at the local (village/sub-town), sub-district, district, state and national level under provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
It is mandatory for every usual resident of India to register in the NPR.
A usual resident is defined for the purposes of NPR as a person who has resided in a local area for the past 6 months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next 6 months or more.
Last week, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said "an anti-constitutional law (CAA) will have no place" in his state.
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, "in your (BJP) manifesto, instead of development issues, you have put in promise to divide the country. Why will citizenship be on the basis of religion? I will not accept this. We dare you".
"You can pass laws in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha forcefully because you have the number. But we will not let you divide the country," she said.
Banerjee also announced that her government will not allow NPR exercise in Bengal.
Describing CAA as a "direct assault" on India's secular character, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said his government will not let the legislation be implemented in his state.
"We have a majority in the assembly and we will block the bill," Singh said.
According to the amended Citizenship Act, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till Dec. 31, 2014 and faced religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants and given Indian citizenship.
The CAA says the refugees of the six communities will be given Indian citizenship after residing in India for five years, instead of 11 years earlier.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said the act was clearly unconstitutional. "Whatever decision is made at the Congress party forum on the bill, will be applied in Chhattisgarh," he said.
The act also proposes to give immunity to such refugees facing legal cases after being found as illegal migrants.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath said, "whatever stand the Congress party has taken on Citizenship Amendment Act, we will follow that. Do we want to be a part of a process that sows seeds of divisiveness?".
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram also said the bill was a "brazen assault" on the fundamental ideas enshrined in the Constitution and the fate of the law will be decided in the Supreme Court.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed by both houses of Parliament last week and has received the presidential assent.