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UNHRC moves Supreme Court of India over CAA

UNHRC High Commissioner has sought to intervene as amicus curiae (third-party) in the case

Thursday March 5, 2020 6:37 PM, ummid.com with inputs from IANS

UNHRC in SC over CAA

New Delhi: The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has moved an intervention application in the Supreme Court criticizing the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as it puts Muslim migrants at risk and also has issues of reasonableness and objectivity, which may not be in sync with India's commitment to international covenants.

The application was filed by Michelle Bachelet Jeria, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (the High Commissioner).

'CAA lacks objectivity'

The High Commissioner has sought to intervene as amicus curiae (third-party) in the case, citing her mandate to protect and promote all human rights and to conduct necessary advocacy established pursuant to the UN General Assembly resolution.

"While reducing the risk of refoulement for certain communities, the CAA unequally places other communities at such risk. Accordingly, the narrow scope of the CAA, which extends protection from return only on religious grounds and limited to the specific ethno-religious groups, may not be sufficiently objective and reasonable in light of the broad prohibition of refoulement under international human rights law," said the High Commissioner in the application.

The application said that for the purpose of this intervention application, in the present case, the question is therefore not a matter of the general purpose of the law, but whether the differentiations drawn within the law (CAA), namely the exclusion of persons from the scope of the law, on the basis of their religion is sufficiently objective and reasonable.

The application says the CAA protects Afghan, Bangladeshi and Pakistani Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Parsi and Sikh migrants who meet the conditions set out in the CAA from being returned to a country where they would face persecution on religious grounds, by addressing their irregular migration status by providing them with an expedited pathway to citizenship.

"While this is a worthy and commendable objective, it raises a number of issues related to India's wider human rights obligations in the context of the fundamental principle of non-refoulement," added the plea.

'Internal matters of a sovereign country'

Commenting on the first of its kind move by the UN body, the Modi government said that no foreign institution or individual has any locus standi on internal matters of a sovereign country.

In a statement, the Ministry of External affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that India's Permanent Mission in Geneva was informed on Monday evening that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has filed "an intervention application" in the apex court in connection to the CAA.

The Centre said that the CAA was an internal matter of India and concerns the sovereign right of the Indian Parliament to make laws.

"We strongly believe that no foreign party has any locus standi on issues pertaining to India's sovereignty," Kumar said.

"We are clear that the CAA is constitutionally valid and complies with all requirements of our constitutional values. It is reflective of our long standing national commitment in respect of human rights issues arising from the tragedy of the Partition of India."

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