Skip to main content

Former SC, HC justices, advocates, activists, litterateurs oppose CAB, seek support

Counterview Desk
Several top citizens, including former judges, advocates, litterateurs and activists have sought support for their statement opposing the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), 2019, and proposed all-India National Register of Citizens (NRC). To be released on December 10, those who support it have been asked to endorse it end in to cjpindia@gmail.com or here.
Called Stand Up for the Constitution #Scrap CAB 2019 #NoNRC, those who have floated the statement are: former Supreme Court justice PB Sawant, former Bombay High Court justices Hosbet Suresh and BG Kolse Patil, human rights defenders Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand, poet and screen writer Javed Akhtar, industrialist and activist Cyrus Guzder, senior advocates Mihir Desai and Sandhya Gokhale, actor and writer Chitra Palekar, artist Shankuntala Kulkarni, journalist Anil Dharker, and bureaucrat-turned-avtivist Harsh Mander.

Text:

Citizenship has been defined as the right to have rights. Citizenship in India is based on the non-negotiable principles of equality and non-discrimination. India, when it became Independent (1947) and thereafter when it firmly rooted itself in an inclusive and composite nationhood, in 1950, accepted that people of all faiths, creeds, castes, languages and genders, equally and without discrimination are Indian.
In sharp contrast to this foundational commitment and history, over the past six years, there are clear political moves to fundamentally assault and redefine this Constitutional basis of both Indian nationhood and citizenship.
Especially now, with the newly drafted proposed CAB or Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 (that is now proposed to be re-introduced in the 2019 Winter Session of Parliament) and second through a hurried, and not thoroughly debated all India-level National Population Register (NPR)-National Register of Citizens (NRC) process.
Both these moves need to be categorically protested and condemned.
CAB (2019) makes a promise to entertain requests for refuge and citizenship to all those ‘persecuted minorities’ from three Islamic countries, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who reached India before either 2014 or later.
The amendments by giving special privileges to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jain, Parsis and Christians from these three countries, single out Muslims for exclusion. For example, neither the Ahmadiyas, who are undoubtedly persecuted in Pakistan, nor do possible asylum seekers like the Rohingyas from Myanmar or Tamils from Sri Lanka have any place here.
For the first time there is a statutory attempt to not just privilege peoples from some faiths but at the same time relegate another, Muslims, to second-rate status. The proposed amendments to India’s 1955 citizenship law (Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019) need to be strongly rejected on these counts alone, in that they are divisive and discriminatory in character.
The CAB, 2019 is at odds with Constitutional secular principles and a violation of Articles 13, 14, 15, 16 and 21 which guarantee the right to equality, equality before the law and non discriminatory treatment by the Indian state.
This regime threatens to go further. Through the process of enlisting for an NPR)
 and thereafter an NRC, the present government appears intent on causing huge upheavals within Indian society. Assam has, especially since 2013, been reeling under the impact of this ill-conceived exercise.
Apart from the huge material costs, the human costs have been immeasurable. Death, families torn apart; detention camps and foreigners’ tribunals; fear, the spectre of statelessness – this is what the ordinary people, especially minorities, Dalits, women, children and the poor have had to suffer and continue to suffer. The worst impacted are women and children.
A nation-wide NRC will unleash widespread division and suffering among people across the country – rather than address the critical needs, from food security and employment to the annihilation of discrimination based on caste, community and gender, to the freedom to speak, worship, and live as our diverse people choose.
Today 19 lakh persons (1.9 million live a broken existence in Assam with the sword of statelessness hanging over them. Does the rest of India want to tread this path?
A nation-wide NRC will unleash widespread division and suffering among people across the country
Never mind this history, the Indian government wishes now to replicate an Assam like trauma on the entire Indian people. While the government has announced, or rather decreed, that the NPR survey would begin from April 2020 onwards, there has been no public debate and clarity -- in Parliament or elsewhere -- on the criteria of inclusion and exclusion within this ‘register’ once its begins.
Neither has there been any deliberation on the documents that will be required and demanded as standards of poof. There is also complete silence on the ‘cut-off date’ that will be used as the bottom line.
Indian citizenship law grants citizenship by birth to all born before 1987. After that date apart from the citizens birth the requirement is that one parent needs to have been born in India before 1987. After 2004, there is an additional qualification that neither parent should be an illegal migrant. Given this calibration in existing law, what is or will be the criteria for inclusion and exclusion in the NPR/NRC? In a constitutional democracy can such an exercise be shrouded in secrecy?
Indian society is stratified with the ‘document’ being the privilege of the moneyed and few. Internal migration, natural and manmade disasters particular affect and target marginalised and displaced populations who have to struggle to produce these standards of proof. India has not yet given its migrant labour populations basic voting rights.
Despite a birth registration law that dates to 1969, only 58 % of Indian births are today registered. The Aadhar experiment has thrown up its own levels of horror stories.
Under these circumstances must Indians allow their government to throw them into this conundrun of proof of existence by the document?
We must unequivocally reject CAB 2019 and at the same time in the same breath, NPR/NRC.

Comments

TRENDING

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Gujarat link of controversial US doctor who 'forced' WHO quiz Trump's wonder drug

By Rajiv Shah
A top American doctor, Sapan Sharankishor Desai, born and raised in the “affluent” North Shore (Chicago) region of Illinois by Indian parents, at one point of time involved in NGO activity through  dedicated to “improving” the lives of the impoverished in Gujarat, is in the eyes of a major international storm following his paper (retracted) in a “Lancet” questioning Donald Trump-promoted drug hydroxychloroquine.

Border conflict? RBI nod India's 'brotherly' help to China internationalise its currency

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
In the middle of a global pandemic, China started an unprovoked border conflict with India. It unraveled trust deficit and ties between the two neighbours. As thousands of Chinese troops tried occupying Indian territory, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government directs the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow the Bank of China to start regular banking services in India. The Bank of China will now operate in India like any other commercial banks.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.