ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Test of Judicial Independence

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This is in response to the editorial “Interrogating the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill” (EPW, 14 December 2019). It has rightly identified the politics behind the destruction of the social fabric in present times by responding to the passage of an insidious legislation. This bill marks a turning point in the history of India, sending out a clear message that the nation is only for the majority community. It has signalled the victory of Hindutva over the Constitution enacted under the guidance of chief architect B R Ambedkar and is violative of the principle of the basic structure laid out in the famous landmark judgment of Kesavananda Bharati v State of Kerala (1973).

The whole idea behind the discussion of the Right to Equality (Article 14) in the context of the heated debate regarding the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is to find out whether it passes the test of reasonable classification or not. To start with its applicability, we must know that Article 14 is applied to both citizens as well as non-citizens of this country. This article has two connotations, that is, equality before law (borrowed from the British idea of rule of law) and equal protection of law (borrowed from the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution). Here, the former expression of law is used in a generic and philosophical sense (normative laws), while the latter speaks for specific laws. So, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) is a special law, and therefore, equal protection of law is in question. Its passage in Parliament is against the non-discriminatory norms and secular credentials of the Indian Constitution.

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