Harish Salve, one of India’s biggest names in national and international law, has stated that the Citizenship Amendment Bill is not anti-Muslim and it does not violate the Articles 14, 15 and 21 of Indian constitution as being claimed by naysayers.
Speaking with Times Now’s Rahul Shivshankar, the senior lawyer explained that the communities named in the CAB are the minorities in the three neighbouring nations, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. He added further that the CAB is a narrow-tailored law specifically meant for religiously persecuted minorities in the 3 specified countries.
‘CAB is not anti-Muslim and doesn’t violate Art 14, 15 or even 21 of the Constitution,’ India’s leading legal mind Harish Salve opines on Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) on India Upfront with Rahul Shivshankar. | #CABProtest pic.twitter.com/wGXQ5lIGa9
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) December 10, 2019
Harish Salve explained further that the CAB aims to provide the persecuted minorities in these 3 countries a special status in the naturalisation process and it does not mean in any way that other communities or people will not be naturalised at all, for other communities the rules of general asylum process will be followed. So there is no violation of Article 14 here.
Salve further added that as far as Article 15 is concerned, it is applicable only for Indian citizens and not people from other countries. One becomes an Indian citizen after they are naturalised, not before.
Article 21 of the Indian Constitution is concerned with the right to life. Salve stated that it provides a right to life for those who live in India, not those who want to enter India.
Answering Shivshankar’s question on whether specifying Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, Buddhists and Christians is discriminatory against Muslims, Salve explained that on the laws of equality does not mean having the same law for lions and lambs. He added that since the CAB has ‘religious persecution’ as the basis and is aiding those who are being religiously persecuted (the minorities in the specified Islamic countries) then the community which belongs to the majority religion in these countries cannot claim ‘religious persecution’. And since the CAB is not about political or economic asylum seekers, Muslims do not feature there.
He also asserted that the CAB does not undermine or interfere with the existing rules of asylum and Muslims can continue to seek asylum or apply for citizenship under the existing rules.
When Shivshankar asked whether the claims of Ahmadiyas, Hazaras, and in some cases Shias facing discriminations in their countries have been ignored in the CAB, Salve stated that the countries specified in the CAB have their own state religion and Islamic rules. He added that Islamic majority nations identify their people as per who follows Islam and who does not. Addressing governance problems in neighbouring countries is not the purpose of the CAB.
Replying to the question of why the CAB does not include Tamils in Sri Lanka, Salve stated that Tamils in Sri Lanka are not religiously persecuted. Over the issue of Rohingyas, Salve stated that a law that addresses one evil does not need to address all the evils in all countries. It is notable here that Myanmar, though a Buddhist majority nation, does not have a state religion and Myanmar does not feature in CAB.
For argument’s sake, Salve stated, if immigration or naturalisation facility is provided to the Rohingyas, it can also be argued that why people from African nations are not being included. “CAB is for the religiously persecuted minorities of the three specified neighbouring nations and it does not need to be applicable to all nations or all people in the world who have problems,” he added.
Salve also expressed confidence that if the CAB comes under judicial scrutiny, India’s Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Attorney General KC Venugopal will defend it well.