Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)

Ram Puniyani

CAA : Should United Nations Norms be respected in Domestic Policies ? Is it a matter internal to India ?

In the wake of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) UN High Commissioner, Michele Bachelet, has filed an intervention in the Supreme Court petition challenging the constitutionality of the Citizenship Amendment Act, as she is critical of CAA. Responding to her, India’s Foreign Minister S. Jai Shanker strongly rebutted her criticism, saying that the body (UNHCR) has been wrong and is blind to the problem of cross border terrorism. The issue on hand is the possibility of scores of people, mainly Muslims, being declared as stateless. The problem at hand is the massive exercise of going through the responses/documents from over 120 crore of Indian population and screening documents, which as seen in Assam, yield result which are far from truthful or necessary. Is it a matter internal to India ? The issue of CAA has been extensively debated and despite heavy critique of the same by large number of groups and despite the biggest mass opposition ever to any move in Independent India, the Government is determined on going ahead with an exercise which is reminiscent of the dreaded regimes which are sectarian and heartless to its citizens, which have indulged in extinction of large mass of people on grounds of citizenship, race etc. The Foreign minister’s assertion is that it is a matter internal to India, where India’s sovereignty is all that matters! As far as sovereignty is concerned we should be clear that in current times any sovereign power has to consider the need to uphold the citizenship as per the principle of non-discrimination which is stipulated in Art.26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political (ICCPR) rights. Can such policies, which affect large number of people and are likely to affect their citizenship be purely regarded as ‘internal’? With the World turning into a global village, some global norms have been formulated during last few decades. The norms relate to Human rights and migrations have been codified. India is also signatory to many such covenants in including ICCPR, which deals with the norms for dealing with refugees from other countries. One is not talking of Chicago speech…