Sibal was speaking in Kozhikode. (Source: PTI)
AT A time when Congress-ruled state governments are opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, with the Punjab Assembly even passing a resolution demanding its repeal, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal said on Saturday that it would be “unconstitutional” for state governments to say they will not implement it.
“If the CAA is passed, no state can say ‘I will not implement it’. It is not possible and is unconstitutional. You can oppose it, you can pass a resolution in the Assembly and ask the central government to withdraw it. But, constitutionally, saying that I won’t implement it is going to be problematic and going to create more difficulties,” Sibal said at the Kerala Literature Festival (KLF) in Kozhikode, according to a PTI report.
While the Left government in Kerala has already approached the Supreme Court, saying that the CAA is “violative of the principles of equality, freedom and secularism enshrined in the Constitution”, Congress’s Chief Minister in Punjab, Amarinder Singh, on Friday announced that his government would also approach the apex court on the issue.
Asked about his remarks in Kozhikode, Sibal told The Sunday Express: “It is like this. If you say you won’t implement an Act of the Government of India, you can’t say that... It is not possible under the Constitution. But you have said that the Act is unconstitutional, that can you say. That is for the Supreme Court to decide. If the Supreme Court upholds it, how can you say I won’t implement (it).”
On statements by Congress Chief Ministers that they would not implement CAA in their states, Sibal said: “They have said that they will not implement the NRC. The NRC happens through the NPR. So, they are saying that we will not cooperate with the Union of India. They are not saying that there will be no law. They are saying we will not cooperate with the Union of India.”
Elaborating, he said: “You can’t have a CAA unless you have an NPR and an NRC. How will you have a citizens’ register unless you have a population register and that data is taken. That population register has to be prepared through the local registrar. That has to be by the state officers. It can’t be by the central government. There the state is saying we will not cooperate. They are not saying that we will not implement the law if it is passed.”
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“How will you implement the CAA till you do the NPR? The Citizenship (Amendment) Act is only an Act. How is that Act to be implemented? You will have to draw up who is a citizen and who is not a citizen. How will that be done? Through the NPR. How will NPR be implemented? By having a local registrar appoint people for every street, to find out from each household, through enumeration and through the additional six questions that they are asking... It is that process which the state governments... because otherwise who is the state government to say that I will not cooperate,” said Sibal.
“There is no cooperation needed. The Act has been passed. We will not implement means we will not implement the NPR. That is ok. You need not cooperate. Then they can appoint their own officers.” he said.
“If the CAA becomes a law, they (states) can’t say it can’t be implemented,” said Sibal. “Remember, it becomes a law qua individuals once all the names are in the register. To have a CAA across the country, you have to have the NRC across the country. You are only thinking of Assam. Citizenship (Amendment) Act is to be implemented in the rest of India. How will that happen? Unless the register is done. Like what was happening in Assam. The same exercise will have to be done. How will this exercise be done? There is what is called the 2003 rules. The 2003 rules under clause 14... tell you how this is to be implemented. If you want to have a Citizenship (Amendment) Act which is fine, which is an Act, if you want to decide who is a citizen, who is not... you have to go through the NPR.”