Tuesday, Nov 12, 2002
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By J. Venkatesan
A Bench comprising the Chief Justice, G.B. Pattanaik, Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice S.B. Sinha, extended the stay granted earlier on February 1 after the Centre filed an affidavit supporting the petitioner, the Panthers National Party, which said that if the Act was implemented, it would result in "chaos and pose a threat to country's defence and security''.
The Centre supported the petitioner's stand that the Act would facilitate the entry of terrorists into the State where over 50,000 people had fallen victims to militant activities and prima facie, the Act was ultra vires the Constitution.
The petitioner argued that the 1982 Act was being challenged, as, after the Constitution bench of the apex court "returned unanswered'' the Presidential reference of the related Bill in this regard, the then Chief Minister, Farooq Abdullah, had announced that the State would implement the Act.
The petitioner said that if the Act was implemented, more than two lakh Pakistanis might enter the State and settle down here. Even the Taliban men who had been driven out of Afghanistan could settle down in the State with fraudulent certificates.
On behalf of the Union Government, it was submitted that the implementation of the Act would result in a large number of aliens returning to India, which was not permissible under the Citizenship Act.
As citizenship and return of aliens were matters within the exclusive legislative competence of Parliament, the State Act was not in conformity with the Constitution and beyond the legislative competence of the State.
Further conferment and deprivation of citizenship was an attribute of sovereignty, which could be exercised only by the Government of India and such power would be subject to the exclusive power of Parliament.
The Centre said that under this Act, even persons who had committed treasonable acts against India could return any time and resettle in Jammu and Kashmir as a matter of legal right. This would endanger national security and public order, the Centre said and sought a declaration that the impugned Act was unconstitutional and void.
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