Indian Catholic religious describe citizenship law as unconstitutional
The Justice Coalition of Religious group represents 16 religious congregations. It upholds the Constitution’s principle of equality. India must respect its commitments to the international human rights treaties and conventions it signed.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – A group of Indian priests and nuns have slammed India’s new citizenship law, describing it as unconstitutional.
The 36 men and women religious represent 16 congregations working among society’s poorest: Dalits and marginalised, including street children, indigenous people, women forced into prostitution and exploited in the sex business, the disabled, as well as the homeless.
Calling themselves the ‘Justice Coalition of Religious’, they met recently in Mumbai, from 16 to 18 January.
In a statement, they noted that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), adopted in mid-January and criticised by activists, intellectuals, Catholics and Churches, violates the principles of the 1950 Constitution, which accepts “people of all faiths, creeds, castes, languages and genders” as Indians, “equally and without discrimination”.
The group notes that leaders of the Catholic Church agrees with the criticism already expressed by many.
In their view, “The CAA is the first instance of religion being overtly used as criterion for citizenship under Indian nationality laws and therefore fundamentally discriminatory and divisive in nature.”
The new law “is at odds with secular principles enshrined in the Constitution and contradicts Articles 13, 14, 15, 16 and 21, which guarantee to every citizen the right to equality, equality before the law, and non-discriminatory treatment by the State.”
The statement highlights the government's hypocrisy in helping only select communities and people since it “unfairly disadvantages Muslim groups, such as [Shia] Hazaras and Ahmadis who have historically faced persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh from seeking refuge in India.”
The CAA “leaves out Sri Lankan Tamils who form the largest refugee group in India residing here for now almost three decades.” It “also excludes the Rohingya Muslims, the ‘world’s most persecuted minority’ from Myanmar with whom we share a border.”
For the group of Catholic consecrated persons, the legislation will increasingly affect women, children, slave workers, homeless people, transsexuals, Adivasis and Dalits, who are already poor and do not have the economic opportunities to obtain the documents necessary to prove their residence.
Finally, they call on India to uphold its commitments to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, and other international human rights treaties.