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Missing the wood: On anti-CAA resolution in Kerala Assembly

Resolution is allowed:

    • The principal objection that citizenship being a matter concerning the Union, it is not open to State Assemblies to give their opinion on it, is not valid. If a State government believes that a parliamentary law is not constitutional, it is possible for the State legislature to call for its repeal.
    • Some states have also come out in support of the resolution holding that such a resolution reflects the popular will of the people.
  • A resolution is not legislation, and is not governed by the principle of legislative competence. It is only an expression of a political opinion which the states are free to express.
  • The passing of a resolution is considered an internal matter of the state assembly where the House Speaker decides on admitting a resolution and hence due process was followed in the passing of the resolution.
  • There have been past precedents where in Tamil Nadu assembly had passed several resolutions concerning India’s foreign policy such as asking for a war crimes probe against Sri Lanka and even a referendum on ‘Tamil Eelam’.

Resolution not right:

  • Union Law Minister and Kerala Governor have denounced the adoption of such a resolution by the Kerala Assembly.
  • Subsequently, there was a move in the Rajya Sabha to initiate breach of parliament privileges and contempt proceedings against the Kerala Chief Minister for the resolution.
  • There have been questions raised on whether a State Assembly is competent to question the law on a matter under the Union government’s domain. The resolution is said to be against the principle of parliamentary sovereignty. 
  • There have also been arguments that all States have a constitutional duty to implement central laws. Failure of which can be acted against by imposing president’s rule in such states.
  • There is a technical problem on the resolution’s admissibility given that Kerala Assembly Rules states that matters pending before a court or those that do not concern the State should not be admitted in the form of a resolution. Given that several petitions are pending against the CAA in the Supreme Court the resolution goes against the rules framed for Kerala assembly.

Concerns:

  • The CAA protests and the subsequent move by Kerala assembly may set the stage for a wider confrontation between the Centre and States that have expressed their disinclination to give effect to the Centre’s policy regarding the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.
  • There has been growing politicization of the issue with the political parties trying to use the issue electorally.

Way forward:

  • The government should consider the major concerns against CAA and address them. The major concerns being raised are that the CAA may be in violation of the equality norm and secular principles enshrined in the Constitution.
  • Voicing support for the CAA and also opposing CAA are both valid political opinions, but these should not translate into the politicization of the issue. The concerns and remedy should be sought through legitimate constitutional methods like the judicial review of the CAA in the Supreme Court.

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