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Citizenship law fails three tests of classification: Faizan Mustafa, VC, NALSAR University of Law

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act goes against constitutional vision and is unreasonable and arbitrary,
Faizan Mustafa, vice-chancellor of NALSAR University of Law, tells ET Bureau.
Edited excerpts:

The Opposition argues that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA is anti-constitutional.

The CAA goes against the constitutional vision. This classification is not a reasonable classification because, one, it does not cover all the neighbouring countries. Two, it does not cover all persecuted minorities. The CAA is neither based on a reasonable classification nor does it have a rational object or just object to achieve. Three, it is arbitrary.

But BJP says Article 14 allows classification?

They are right. It allows classification but the classification must be reasonable. And a classification must have a rationale and just object to achieve. And it must be non-arbitrary.

These three tests must be satisfied. In my opinion, CAA does not satisfy these tests.

What happens if CAA is challenged in the Supreme Court?

It will definitely be challenged. The court will generally refer it to a constitutional bench and it will not be promptly decided. Unless the court takes a bold stand and stays it, this law will be implemented, in my opinion.

How do you look at the apprehensions around CAA, seen along with the National Register of Citizens (NRC)?

If the government declares it is not going ahead with the NRC, CAA is welcome. In NRC, when people get excluded, how will you include them? If people start getting punished for not having documents or discrepancies in documents, we are heading towards a disaster because poor and illiterate people don’t have documents. I think the nation, with these unnecessary steps, is not going in the right direction, particularly when our economy is going through a bad patch.

What do you have to say about the apprehensions of Muslims about CAA?

Their apprehensions are genuine. The CAA in itself may not be bad but, read with NRC, it is a dangerous proposition, not only for Muslims but also for Hindus. Poor Hindus will be equally affected, like it happened in Assam.

They are going to be equally excluded and targeted and they all will stop working. They will all be searching for documents; they will be bribing people to get documents.

And national productivity, GDP, will suffer. It is an injustice to ask people to prove their citizenship on the basis of documents and get excluded if there is a small discrepancy.

Source: Economic Times