Kerala defends passing anti-CAA resolution

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on January 03, 2020

Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala 13/12/2019:: Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala releasing an 'alternative white paper' on Kerala's stark financial situation prepared by the United Democratic Front in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday by handing over a copy to Congress Legislature Party Deputy leader K. C. Joseph. V. D. Satheesan and K. Sabarinathan, MLAs are also seen.............Photo:S.Gopakumar/The Hindu   -  THE HHINDU

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, KERALA, 05/02/2018: Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan. Photo: S. Gopakumar   -  THE HINDU

Speaker of Assembly says it’s the State’s duty to flag ‘anti-Constitutional laws’

The BJP and the Governor of Kerala Arif Mohhammed Khan might have termed the resolution against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) adopted in the Assembly as anti-Constitutional, but both the ruling coalition LDF and the Opposition UDF have stuck to their stand and maintain the State has every right to criticise a Central law that violates Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution.

The Speaker of the Kerala Assembly P Sreeramakrishnan told BusinessLine over phone that nowhere in the Constitution it is said that a State Assembly should not pass such a resolution. “We are not making a law by-passing the Centre’s law. We have a federal system and the Constitution puts no hurdles before any State Assembly from airing an opinion on an issue of public importance. In the past too, Kerala Assembly has passed resolutions against Acts passed in Parliament. In 1971, the Kerala Assembly passed a resolution against the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA). In 2006 and in 2019, we passed resolutions on certain provisions in Income Tax Act that included cooperative banks also in the ambit of I-T,” he said.

He added that in the case of CAA, the State believes that it violates Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution. “So it is the duty of the State to flag such violations. We will use the powers of the Assembly against such violations in the future too. The State has every right to point out the Constitutional violations in a Central law,” he added.

Congress leader and MLA VD Satheeshan, who first gave the notice for such a resolution, which was later accepted and turned into a joint resolution by the government, said the Assembly passed the resolution based on the rules and procedures of the Assembly, which was drafted within the framework of the Constitution. “The resolution is based on Rule 118 of the Kerala Assembly that empowers a member or a Minister to move a resolution relating to a matter of general public interest. This is the basic legal logic behind our resolution. I had given a notice under rule 130 for a discussion on the matter. The government was ready to bring a resolution of the same nature and that is why the Chief Minister himself moved it,” Satheeshan, a former AICC secretary, said.

He felt that the CAA is a clear case of violation of Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution. “The impact of this violation can be addressed by Article 13, which provides the remedy for laws inconsistent with fundamental rights. The Preamble also upholds secularism. The CAA violates the principle of secularism too. The Supreme Court has made it clear in its verdict on the Keshavananda Bharti case that no law should violate the basic tenets of the Constitution,” Satheeshan said.

Not reasonable

According to him, the BJP’s argument that the provision is an example for ‘reasonable classification’ will also not hold ground. “The Supreme Court has clearly laid down the definition of reasonable classification. Their interpretation of reasonable classification will not stand legal scrutiny. Their argument of positive discrimination also will not stand. They say that they are providing citizenship, not denying it through the CAA. But while doing so, they are keeping away persons from a particular religion. In Assam, the NRC took away the citizenship of about 19 lakh people including Hindus. But through the CAA, the Centre has ensured that Hindus among them will get citizenship and it will be denied to Muslims. Isn’t this clear discrimination? They have failed to explain the logic behind clubbing Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan together. The Home Minister has been giving different explanations for this. The case of religious persecution in Myanmar, for example, is much serious. Why we are excluding Myanmar? They have no answers,” he said.

Satheeshan said the CAA is modelled on the 1935 German citizenship plan and the 1982 Myanmar Citizenship law. “Both resulted in genocide... of Jews and Rohingya Muslims,” he said.

He also cited the the resolutions in the past against executive orders on cow-slaughter ban and demonetisation. “Our point is that Parliament is incompetent to pass such a legislation. The government has a mandate, but the legislations should be within the framework of the Constitution. No Act is final unless it is within the Constitution. The Supreme Court has the powers to intervene, scrutinise and review it. That means the Constitution is supreme. Not Parliament. This law is questionable. Not just the Assembly, but every citizen has the right to challenge a law. This is a case of Constitution. That is why we make sure that Preamble of Constitution is read in our protests,” he said.

Published on January 03, 2020

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