The Supreme Court of India today is hearing a mixed bunch of petitions some supporting while others challenging the constitutional validity of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA). In its previous hearing SC had refused to grant a stay on the implementation of the Act and fixed January 22, 2020 as the date to conduct a hearing on the petitions.
The Central Government is yet to file its response in the matter against CAA in the Supreme Court. Besides, there is a transfer petition filed by the Centre to transfer similar cases from all the High Courts to the Apex Court. Court’s order is likely to be passed on that issue.
Kapil Sibal, Advocate for one of the Petitioners and Attorney General, KK Venugopal speak about overcrowding of courts and ruckus inside courts. "There should be a peaceful and calm atmosphere in court", says Venugopal. He adds that there should be some restrictions on who can come inside court room. The hearing (in matters) is also disordered, says Chief Justice of India SA Bobde.
Sibal asks CJI-led bench whether the petitions opposing CAA should be referred to a Constitution Bench. “Maybe it should,” replies CJI Bobde. Sibal asks for an interim stay on the implementation of the CAA. Sibal says a stay should be granted till the time the Supreme Court hears the matter because if citizenship is granted to someone once, it would not be possible to revoke that citizenship.
Rajeev Dhavan suggests the full bench to refer the matter to a constitutional bench. SC says it will not pass any exparte stay on CAA or NPR. Venugopal opposes grant of any interim relief saying Centre should be heard before any interim order is passed.
CJI says suggests waiting until the Centre gets served with all the petitions and hearing the other side together. CJI says, “If we pass an order in a certain batch of petitions and others are left out, they will want the same thing.” Venugopal suggests freezing further filing of petitions regarding the CAA issue.
Venugopal says there should be no more petitions allowed. Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta says the way out is to allow filing of intervention applications in writ petitions which have already been filed.
SC asks Centre when they will file a response to the petitions relating to Assam. Centre says two weeks. Then we will list the matter after two weeks, says CJI Bobde.
SC says the petitions challenging CAA will be heard by a five-judge Constitutional bench. The Central Government argues that it has to reply to at least 80 more CAA petitions in SC and would require at least 6 weeks, then cutting it down to 4 weeks. CJI says that the court will issue notices in all the remaining petitions filed.
CJI says, “The matter is uppermost in everybody's mind. We will form a 5-judge Bench and then list the case.” He further added that some of these matters would be heard in-chamber on "procedural issues" and not on merits. The Central government has been given 4 weeks’ time to file a reply to more than 140 petitions challenging the validity of CAA. The Supreme Court has refused to pass any order for now. The next hearing would be held in the 5th week for orders.