Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Monday submitted a notice in the Lok Sabha to oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill at the introduction stage on the grounds that it "violates" the fundamental right to equality. Tharoor submitted the notice this morning under under Rule 72 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha. The Bill violates the Fundamental Right to Equality prescribed by Article 14 since it infringes upon the principle of "equality before law" and the "equal protection of laws" guaranteed to all persons, including non-citizens, Tharoor said in his notice.
The Bill endorses the idea of religious discrimination by allowing individuals of only six religious identities to acquire citizenship while excluding the individuals belonging to other religious identities, he said.
It is, therefore, beyond the legislative competence of the House to enact a "legislation of this nature" since Article 13 clearly states that "the State shall not make any law which takes away or abridges the rights conferred" by Part III of the Constitution, Tharoor argued.
Citing these reasons, Tharoor said he wishes to oppose the proposed Bill and request the permission of the Speaker, to elaborate upon these submissions before the House in a "full discussion" so that the motion for introduction is not allowed, the notice read.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan escaping religious persecution there.
The Congress has said it will oppose "tooth and nail" the Bill in Parliament as it is against the country's Constitution and its secular ethos. In an interview to PTI on Sunday, Tharoor had said the passage of the Bill will mark the definitive victory of Mohammed Ali Jinnah's thinking over that of Mahatma Gandhi's, asserting that the exercise of granting citizenship on the basis of religion will reduce India to a "Hindutva version of Pakistan".
The former Union minister also alleged that the BJP government wants to single out "one community" and refuses to grant its members asylum from oppression on the same conditions as other communities. Tharoor said even if the Bill is passed by both the Houses of Parliament, he is confident that no bench of the Supreme Court will allow such a "blatant violation" of the fundamental tenets of India's Constitution to go unchecked.