Law and Other Things is calling for response pieces, critically analyzing and engaging with the arguments raised by the speakers on Citizenship, Residency and the Constitution in The Courts & The Constitution Conference, 2020 was organized by NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad in collaboration with Law and Other Things and Azim Premji University.
About Law and Other Things
Started in 2005, Law and Other Things is ‘A blog about India’s legal system, its Courts and its Constitution’, which seeks to publish engaging and insightful articles on matters of general public law.
The Courts & The Constitution Conference, 2020 was organized by NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad in collaboration with Law and Other Things and Azim Premji University, with the aim of critiquing the major legal developments that took place in the preceding year. One such legal development was the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, which sparked nationwide protests and almost 140 petitions in the Supreme Court. It was featured as the theme for discussion in one of the panels titled ‘Citizenship, Residency and the Constitution’ hosted by the Conference which was moderated by Mr. Arvind Narrain. The panelists were Justice G.R. Swaminathan, Aymen Mohammad, Mohsin Alam Bhat, and Nizam Pasha. One can find the video recording of the panel discussion here.
December 12, 2020 marks one year since the controversial Bill was signed into law by the president. We are inviting response pieces for our blog Law and Other Things, critically analyzing and engaging with the arguments raised by the speakers of this panel.
The arguments made by the speakers are summarized hereinbelow briefly:
Arvind Narrain, the panel moderator, started the discussion by introducing the panelists and setting the stage. He summarised the major issues spoken by all the speakers at the end of the discussion, which has been presented at the end of this transcript. Arvind Narrain invoked Hannah Arendt’s‘ right to have rights’ conception of citizenship and hoped that the Court would uphold the substantive understanding of Article 14, which has already been reflected in the popular protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (“CAA”).
Justice Swaminathan gave a brief overview of his judgment in P. Ulaganathan v. UOI wherein he observed that statelessness is a violation of Article 21. He commented on the legislative competence of the Parliament to enact Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 and advised for an engagement with the views of those supporting the CAA in order to facilitate a conversation.
Aymen Mohammad then drew upon federalism and Article 355 of the Constitution so as to point out how the Union was wrongly justifying its protection of the federal units. He also elaborated upon the procedural shortcomings of National Population Register (NPR) and found the trio of CAA-NPR-NCR to be incorrigibly violative of individual privacy.
Mohsin Alam Bhat drew upon his experiences from Assam so as to enlighten the audience about the twilight of citizenship by explaining the inhumane functioning of Foreigners’ Tribunals. He observed that a culture of fear, excess of law, and mass suspicion were being furthered by the current Union government.
Thereafter, Nizam Pasha discussed in depth the Sarbanda Sonowal I & II judgments and showed how the Court was acting as an administrative authority, rather than a constitutional court examining the question of citizenship. He focused upon the procedural and substantive lapses while dealing with the entire NRC process, including the lax appointment procedure for Foreigners’ Tribunal members, disproportionate burden of proof, etc. He also questioned the use of the doctrine of under-inclusion in the context of citizenship and the Ambedkarite idea of constitutional morality that can be invoked to challenge CAA.
The central theme of the article should deal with public law. Please go through the posts on The website to get an idea of what this entails.
The article can be sent through the contact form below, or as a Word document (.doc or .docx) to submissions[at]lawandotherthings[dot]com.
Submissions should be accompanied by a short summary (1-2 lines) of the article. Articles may be co-authored.
If the article is a response piece for the Courts and the Constitution Conference, the same must be specified along with the name of the panel.
Word Limit & Formatting: The article must not exceed 1200 words.
All references must be hyperlinked in the body of the text. In case no online source is available for a reference, footnotes may be used.
Author Details: Submissions shall necessarily contain the following in the body of the email: Name of Author, Year of Study (if applicable), Institution/Organisation of affiliation, Short Bio (about 40-50 words).
The portion of the Conference Publication covering this Panel can be found here.
The video recording of the panel discussion can be found here.
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