Terming the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) as a direct assault on India’s secular character, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday said his government would not allow the legislation to be implemented in his state.
Asserting his commitment to the protection of the Constitutional ethos of the country, Captain Amarinder said the Congress, which has a majority in the State Assembly, would block the unconstitutional Bill in the House. His government, on its part, would not let the legislation rip apart the secular fabric of the country, whose strength lies in its diversity, said the Chief Minister, a day after the controversial Bill was also passed in the Rajya Sabha.
The Parliament had no authority to pass a law that defiled the Constitution and violated its basic principles and fundamental rights of the people of India, said the Chief Minister, declaring CAB to be `null and void’ on account of the fact that it was against the tenets and values contained in the Constitution.
Pointing to the divisive nature of the law, Captain Amarinder said any legislation that seeks to divide the people of the country on religious lines was illegal and unethical, and could not be allowed to sustain.
It was the duty of an elected government to safeguard the cherished values ingrained in the Constitution and not destroy them, said the Chief Minister, making it clear that he would not let such a Constitutional violation take place under his regime. “How can you leave out a large section of the Indian population from the protection they have been getting since we declared India a “sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic, assuring its citizens justice, equality and liberty…”, asked Captain Amarinder, pointing out that by linking citizenship with religion, CAB would hit out at the very foundation of the nation.
“What if other countries, where Indians are settled in large numbers and have acquired their citizenship, decide to bring in similar legislations? What will happen to those Indians if the countries of their stay decide to withdraw their citizenship on account of their religious beliefs?” asked the Chief Minister.
The move, said Captain Amarinder, was retrograde and regressive, and sought to take India back from the progressive charter mandated by its Constitution. Instead of using brute majority in Parliament to push the Bill through, the central government should have discussed the matter with all parties and tried to evolve a consensus, if at all it felt the legislation was in the interest of India and its people, he added.