THIRUVANANTHAPURAM/NEW DELHI :
Centre mulls online process for citizenship in new law
THE Kerala Assembly on Tuesday passed a resolution demanding scrapping of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), making the Left-ruled state the first to oppose legislatively the controversial law that has triggered nationwide protests. The Centre, meanwhile, is likely to make the entire process of granting citizenship under the CAA online to bypass the opposition by some states, officials said in Delhi. The Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) is mulling the option of doing away with the present procedure of routing the applications for the citizenship through the District Magistrates and designate a new authority. Opposition DMK in Tamil Nadu and a ruling State Congress leader in Maharashtra wanted the respective state assemblies to follow the Kerala example in demanding scrapping of the new citizenship law.
Setting aside their political differences, Kerala’s CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front(LDF) and Opposition Congress-headed United Democratic Front(UDF) once again came together to launch a joint offensive against the Centre on the CAA. While all the members of two fronts unanimously supported the resolution and vehemently criticised the Centre, O Rajagopal, the lone BJP MLA in the 140-member house, opposed the resolution, terming it as “illegal and unconstitutional.” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who moved the resolution and Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala of the Congress, who seconded it, alleged that the CAA was an attempt to make India a religious nation.
Rajagopal rejected the charge, saying the Act was being “misinterpreted” and lies were being spread by the fronts for narrow political gains. The Chief Minister said that the implementation of the act will lead to religion-based discrimination in granting citizenship, which was against the secular values enshrined in the Constitution. Just because both houses of Parliament have passed the CAA, it cannot be implemented as the act was against constitutional values, the CPI-M veteran said.
The resolution was passed at the special session of the Assembly convened to ratify the extension by another 10 years the reservation for SC and ST community in the state assemblies and Parliament. Several non-BJP Chief Ministers like Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal and Amarinder Singh of Punjab have announced they would not implement the CAA but the State Assemblies have not approved any formal resolution yet. Hours after the Kerala Assembly passed the resolution, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Parliament alone has got powers to pass any law regarding citizenship and not state legislatures, “including Kerala Assembly.” “It is only the Parliament which has got the powers to pass any law with regard to citizenship; not any assembly, including Kerala Assembly,” he told a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram.