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CAA: Centre, States, Politics And Law

When the Governor of Kerala Arif Mohammad Khan asserted that the resolution passed by the state assembly on Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) had no constitutional validity, he was reiterating a point made by many legal luminaries. Khan was referring to the resolution passed by the state assembly, tabled by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan which sought the withdrawal of the law describing it as unconstitutional.

Speaking to media persons on Thursday, the Kerala Governor remarked that the subject of citizenship clearly falls under the Union list. In other words, he implied that state governments have no jurisdiction over the law per se. However, in passing the resolution, the state government was essentially taking a stand on the subject, legality aside. Moreover, when it comes to implementation of the law, state government machinery comes into play and resistance from local state governments could prove to be a challenge on the ground.

The BJP criticized the Kerala chief minister with its national general secretary and Rajya Sabha member, GVLNarasimha Rao asserting that he would seek action against Vijayan for breach of parliamentary privileges. The Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad endorsed this view remarking that states have to implement CAA as it is a law enacted by Parliament.

Meanwhile, the Rajasthan State Cabinet also decided not to implement CAA and National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the state. Other Congress states including Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Chhattisgarh have vowed to block the Act. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has also spoken against it.

In Tamil Nadu, the DMK said that it would move a resolution in the assembly against the implementation of CAA-NRC in the state. Perhaps, in view of the growing opposition to the implementation of CAA by several state governments and its perceived linkage with NRC, Law Minister Prasad clarified that only after discussions with all stakeholders would the NRC roll-out take place.

A Centre-States stand-off on the issue could create an unprecedented constitutional crisis. Therefore, the sooner the Modi government clears the air on the issue through discussions with all stakeholders as stated by the Union Law Minister, the better.

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