AGENCIES, New Delhi: In a move that indicates growing international pressure on India, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has approached the Supreme Court over “the exclusions of persons…on the basis of their religion” from the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
In its plea, the UNHRC has said the “differentiations” drawn by the law are not “sufficiently objective and reasonable”.
The External Affairs Ministry immediately hit back in a sharply-worded statement, declaring the CAA as an “internal matter” and saying “no foreign party had any locus standi on issues pertaining to India’s sovereignty”.
The MEA also said the CAA, which the government says will help non-Muslim refugees fleeing religious persecution from Muslim-dominated neighbouring countries, is “constitutionally valid” and upholds human rights values. “It is reflective of our long-standing national commitment in respect of human rights issues arising from the tragedy of the Partition of India,” the ministry said.
The government’s claim that the CAA will help non-Muslim refugees because Islam is the state religion in the countries listed (Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan) has been disputed by the UN human rights body. “Recent reports…ascertain there exist a number of religious groups considered religious minorities in these countries, especially of the Muslim faith, including Ahmadi, Hazara and Shia Muslims whose situations would warrant protection on the same basis as that provided in the preferential treatment proposed by the CAA,” the UN petition states.
The Supreme Court is currently hearing a whopping 143 petitions challenging the legal validity of the CAA. In a January hearing the court declined to put the law on hold and, instead, gave the central government four weeks to respond.