The definition of ‘illegal migrant’ inserted in the Citizenship (Amendment) Act is clearly unconstitutional, former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan B. Lokur has said.
In an interview to Hindustan Times, he said, “there is a twin requirement of rational classification and reasonable nexus to pass the test of Article 14 of the Constitution, which deals with equality. And this is unfortunately forgotten in the present debate,” he said.
Justice Lokur, who is now a Supreme Court judge in Fiji, told Hindustan Times that the rational classification should be ‘reasonably linked’ to the objective sought to be achieved.
The judge, who shot to fame for taking part in press conference with Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, and Kurien Joseph against the CJI Dipak Mishra, said the article forbade ‘class legislation’ that intended to make improper discrimination by ‘conferring privileges or imposing liabilities.’
He cited Justice SK Das’ judgment and said: “The classification must not be arbitrary but must be rational, that is to say, it must not only be based on some qualities or characteristics which are to be found in all the persons grouped together and not in others who are left out but those qualities or characteristics must have a reasonable relation to the object of the legislation.
The jurist’s comments comes in the wake of the country witnessing massive protests over the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, with thousands of citizens taking to the streets.
In Uttar Pradesh at least a dozen people, including an eight-year-old boy, had lost their lives in CAA-related protests.
The Supreme Court had rejected a stay on the Act and instead decided to hear 59 petitions filed against it on January 22 after the courts reopen.