NEW DELHI: India’s Supreme Court rejected appeals on Wednesday to postpone the enforcement of new citizenship law, ruling that a five-judge constitutional bench was needed to hear all the legal challenges which critics said discriminate against Muslims.
The Indian Supreme court provided four weeks for the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi government to react to 144 petitions challenging the constitutional applicability of the law that has sparked protests across the country.
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The citizenship act, which came into force on January 10 after being passed by the parliament in December, sets out a path for nationality for six religious minorities mostly in Muslim neighboring countries — Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.
Critics argue that Muslims ‘ exclusion is discriminatory and that going to base on ethnicity the right to citizenship contradicts the secular values of India’s constitution.
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However, Chief Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde, who led a three-bench tribunal, told a crowded courtroom that only a constitutional court of five judges will decide on the subject and meanwhile gave the government more time to explain its position on citizenship law.
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