Applying the Test of 'Reasonable Classification' and 'Intelligible Differentia' on the CAA!

The new Citizenship Amendment Act mentions certain classes, groups or people and attracts Article 14 of the Constitution of India. Article 14 is applicable on every person within the territory of India. State cannot deny to any person equality before the law and equal protection of laws within the territory of India. Any law which abridges one or more than one of fundamental rights is void and unconstitutional under Article 13.

It's true that article 14 permits reasonable classification to examine whether the classification has been made is reasonable or not it has to undergo a test called "intelligible differentia". It provides for making distinction between the people included in a particular group and the people excluded from the group.

 Furthermore the classification must have rational nexus with the object sought to be achieved and the object must not be irrational or arbitrary. Let's apply this test on the new Citizenship Amendment Act. It excludes six communities (Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian) from three countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan) who entered into India on or before the 31st of December 2014 from the definition of "illegal migrant".

It has three things –

First is six communities,

Second is three specific countries and

Third is cut-off date.

When it mentions any class or group of people then it attracts article 14 of the constitution of India 1950 and then it must undergo the test mentioned above.

Let's first see, what is the object of the act? Whether it is rational or not? Whether it is non-arbitrary or not? If we try to find the reason of mentioning six communities then we have to assume many facets of the act. If we assume that these communities are minorities in their country of origin. That is that these are persecuted in their own countries, hence we should let them come to India. The question arises here is that what is the determining principle it follows to pick up these three countries and not rest of whole world. If we assume that any country divided from India on or after 14th of August, 1947 then Afghanistan should not be there in the act. If we assume that these are bordering countries then where are Sri Lanka, Myanmar, China and Bhutan? Apparently no determining principle has been followed.

Another question also arises that why it recognize only one form of persecution (religious persecution)? As we know that there are many other grounds on the basis of which persecution is on the rise in the world? The argument is given that these three countries are Islamic states and "no religious" persecution of the community religion of which is as same as state religion of the country. If we make state religion of a foreign country ground to exclude people from privileges then it will be discrimination to the countrymen who follow the same religion in India. And it all happened because of selection of countries on ground of their state religion.

It will also be a violation of right to equality of an atheist. If any person is being beheaded in any specific country only on ground of religion and on the other hand another person is being beheaded in another country on the ground only of his language or any other factor except religion then you can't say that we will let them come into India who is being beheaded only on religious ground and will close the gate for the person whosoever is being be beheaded only on the ground other than religion. It will be violation of right to equality. Because both are losing their lives. Both feel same kind of pain consequences of which are same.


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Shadab Ansari 
on 22 January 2020
Published in Constitutional Law
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