MEA irked as UNHRC files plea on CAA

Geneva-based UN-OHCHR strongly opposing CAA has ‘filed an intervention application’ in Supreme Court.

New Delhi: In a serious development, highlighting the growing international pressure on India over the Citizenship Amendment Act, the Geneva-based United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN-OHCHR) has “filed an Intervention Application in the Supreme Court of India in respect to the 2019 CAA,” seeking to “assist the Court, in examining the compatibility of the CAA with India’s Constitution, in light of India’s obligations under the international human rights law.” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, in her intervention “amicus curiae (Friend of the Court) brief” filed the plea and has been voicing “great concern” over the CAA.

New Delhi reacted swiftly, saying the CAA is an internal matter” of India and that “no foreign party has any locus standi on issues pertaining to India’s sovereignty.” Terming the CAA as “constitutionally valid,” the Indian government expressed confidence that its “sound and legally sustainable position (on the CAA) would be vindicated by the Supreme Court.” New Delhi also linked the need for the CAA to the “tragedy arising from the Partition of (undivided) India” in 1947.

Nevertheless, the developments have sent shock waves through New Delhi and is being viewed as serious because it is now the UN directly that is seeking to wade through the Indian judicial process to challenge the CAA. It is understood that the SC will now determine the locus standi of the UN-OHCHR in the cases challenging the CAA.

In its 12-page intervention application, the UN-OHCHR welcomed as commendable the “stated purpose of the CAA” to protect “some persons from persecution on religious grounds,” but raised the issue of exclusion of various sects of persecuted Muslims.

The apex court is currently hearing a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the amended citizenship law and had on December 18 sought the response of the Centre.

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