In Its Approach to CAA Cases, the SC Has Failed its Own Standards. The timeline.


One year ago, the President of India gave his assent to the CAA, which had been passed in both Houses of Parliament a day previously. There was a wide outcry against the CAA, even before its enactment, because of the way it dragged religion into the question of citizenship and the threatened ‘chronology’ with which it would dovetail with the proposed nationwide NRC. On 12 December 2019 itself, the Indian Union of Muslim League filed the first petition in the Supreme Court against the CAA challenging its constitutionality. It was soon joined by nearly 140 petitions (which have now risen to close to 200) challenging its provisions. 13 December 2019: The Jamia Teachers Association in Delhi took out a protest march against the CAA, with multiple other protests following. The Assam Students Union filed the first of the petitions against the CAA from the northeast, which had seen huge protests against earlier attempts to bring this law to fruition. 14 December 2019: The Shaheen Bagh protest site came upon 14 December 2019. The Jamia Millia Islamia university premises were raided by the Delhi Police on 15 December 2019, with students assaulted, arrested and charged for alleged rioting. The Chief Justice of India turns down a request for directions against police brutality in Jamia and other universities across the country like AMU. 18 December 2019: The writ petitions against the CAA are listed before a bench comprising the Chief Justice of India and two other Hon’ble Judges. The Court issued notice to the Respondents as also notice to the General. Notice to Union of India was dispensed with because a Counsel had made an appearance. The Court makes notice returnable by 22 January 2020, meaning thereby that the Respondents were expected to be present by then. 16 January 2020: The Indian Union of Muslim League and other petitioners filed an application asking the court to put a stay on the CAA, which had been notified on 10 January. 22 January 2020: The petitions are listed again. Senior advocate KK Venugopal, the Attorney General for India, prays for and is granted four weeks to reply to the petitions on behalf of the Union of India. The judges say that the petitions should be listed after that (in the fifth week from the order). 27 January 2020: Union Home Minister Amit Shah, campaigning for the impending Delhi elections, makes a speech asking for people to push the ballot button to give an electric shock to the protesters at Shaheen Bagh. BJP leaders Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma give objectionable speeches vilifying the protesters as well – but the AAP still wins the Delhi elections. February 2020: The protests against the CAA, including at Shaheen Bagh, continue unabatedly. 23 February 2020: BJP leader Kapil Mishra, following on from a previous speech on 20 December, gives an incendiary speech against the anti-CAA protesters. 23-26 February 2020: Communal riots take place in East Delhi in which persons of both communities killed, their houses vandalised and burnt, and they are rendered homeless. 17 March 2020: The Centre finally files its counter-affidavit against the CAA petitions, nearly one month late. They argue that the CAA was a benign piece of legislation, did not impinge on any existing right, was not arbitrary, and that the policy of which people it would benefit or not was subject to judicial review. Recently, following the farmers' protest, people including farmers and general ones have protested against the CAA and for the release of political prisoners alleged held in prison on false charges.

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