Press Release

Wed Dec 18 2019

Paluwa Pleaders and students studying law across universities are deeply concerned by the events unfolding in India, particularly the recently adopted amendment in citizenship laws and protests thereto. We express our concerns in the following points.

  1. Prima facie, it may be seen as a just move by the government, where it proposes to provide citizenship to those who have been residing in India illegally because they fear for being persecuted in their original country on the basis of religion. However, it is vehemently criticized for transgressing the ‘basic structure’ jurisprudence of the Indian Constitution for, secularism has remained as the basic tenet of the preamble in Indian Constitution as inserted by the forty-second amendment of the Constitution. Secularism as a ‘basic structure’ was also judicially recognized in S.R Bommai v. UOI and also recently in Ayodhya verdict. Recently amended section 2(l) in clause(b)of the Citizenship Act 1955 provides for naturalized citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who for religious persecution alone have entered India before 31st of December, 2014. Pro-Hindu government of India is eager to confer citizenship to non-Muslim illegal migrants from Muslim majority countries, heedless of all Muslim refugees, which transgresses the sanctity of secularism. 
  2. This move is likely to have larger repercussions in South Asia and countries like Nepal.
As we have an open border policy, an influx of minority and illegal migrant or refugee Muslim residing in India to Nepal is highly probable due to the fear of persecution on the basis of religion. This embarks the disintegration of social harmony in the Indian subcontinent and will soon create unprecedented cross-boundary migration, which will eventually lead to refugee related predicament. Drawing from the experience of trans border movement of refugees in the past decades, this move of the Indian government is no short of refugee expulsion from India that is likely to cause a full blown crisis across the region. We call upon South Asian states to negotiate standards for cooperation in refugee protection regime in the region and request that no state aggravate the matter by causing refugee crisis and consequent animosity in the absence of a regional framework. 
  1. Governments are duty bound to hear, respect and foster the culture of dissents. However, in a discernable culture of authoritarianism spread across the globe today, governments, being apathetic to their human right obligations, seem to have developed blinkered intolerance against all voices of dissents and criticism. Much is nonetheless expected of India for it claims to be the largest democracy in the world. However, a widespread breakdown of rule of law and sense of order in India is irrefutable despite any pretext. While recent extra-judicial police encounter of rape accused under custody was still fresh, the rampant use of brutal police forces against the dissident demonstrations by civilians, specially by entering universities, hostels and libraries are a shock to human conscience.  
We strongly condemn the recent moves of the Indian government and request that it acts swiftly, in consonance with its human right obligations and with due respect to dissent as an indispensable element of democratic system of governance.