[This article was authored by Rahul Nair, student at National University of Advanced Legal Studies, Kochi. It attempts to defend to the Citizenship Amendment Act, based both on the low threshold of constitutionality and the relatively higher threshold of best practices found in international law.]
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) has been the subject of tense contention in India prior to, and ever since, its enactment. The Act grants protection (and a fast-track to citizenship) to certain categories of illegal immigrants. It provides citizenship on the basis of religion, most significantly excluding Rohingya Muslims, Sri Lankan Tamils, and the Ahmadiyas in Pakistan. Fears stoked by the Act, along with proposals for a National Register of Citizens (NRC) which could allegedly lead to mass deportation and atrocity have caused widespread protests. But the protests against the CAA have a common theme: a reclamation of the Constitution and constitutional values. This reclamation is misguided. A constitutional reclamation can only take place with due respect to the provisions of the constitutional text and to the specific history of its adoption. I propose a different constitutional reclamation, involving the recovery of the text, the history, and the context of the Constitution with a full understanding of its broad political objectives as well as the unique and contentious nature of its public persona. I attempt a constitutional defence of the CAA, based both on the low- threshold of constitutionality and the relatively higher threshold of best practices found in international law.