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Indian citizenship law in court battle as protests continue

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India’s Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the government to reply within four weeks to a clutch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of a new citizenship law as protests against it continued.

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019 omits Muslims from a list of religious groups from three neighbouring Muslim-majority countries who are entitled to fast-track citizenship.

More than 140 petitions were filed by political parties and civil society groups challenging the legal validity of the CAA in the Supreme Court.

Most of them demanded that the law, which came into force on Jan. 10 should be withdrawn.

A three-judge bench headed by chief justice SA Bobde indicated that the matter would be heard by a larger five-judge bench in about five weeks’ time, according to legal reporting website Bar & Bench.

Some petitioners had requested the postponement of the implementation of the act, but the court did not pass any order on this, Bar & Bench reported.

“We are happy with the court’s response. It is up to the government now to clarify things,” PK Kunhalikutty of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) said.

Kunhalikutty has filed one of the petitions which claims the CAA violates the fundamental right to equality enshrined in the Indian Constitution by making an exclusion on the basis of religion.

Students, opposition political parties, civil society groups and members of the Muslim community have joined demonstrations against the law in cities across India.

The Narendra Modi government says the law would not affect the rights of any citizen, Hindu or Muslim, and has accused opponents of spreading misinformation.

YEE

Edited by: Emmanuel Yashim

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