The Kerala Assembly’s resolution calling upon the Centre to repeal the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, reflects the widespread unease and disquiet the legislation has caused.

Union government reaction

Rather than treat it as a controversy over the question whether a State Assembly is competent to question the law on a matter under the Union government’s domain, the Centre should reflect on the core issue: that the CAA may be in violation of the equality norm and secular principles enshrined in the Constitution.

Centre vs State

Given how deeply the country is divided on the changes in the law, Kerala’s example may set the stage for a wider confrontation between the Centre and States that have expressed their disinclination to give effect to the Centre’s policy in this regard.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is among several CMs who have spoken out against the CAA’s discriminatory nature, but his has been the first regime to adopt a formal resolution for repeal. The Centre must make an effort to understand the underpinnings of the ongoing protests against its amendments, of which the Kerala resolution is surely a part.

Stand by Union

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan have denounced the adoption of such a resolution, the former arguing that all States had a constitutional duty to implement central laws. However, the principal objection — that citizenship being a matter concerning the Union, it is not open to State Assemblies to give their opinion on it — is not valid. To the extent that a State government believes that a parliamentary law is not constitutional, it is entirely in order for the State legislature to call for its repeal.

Source: The Hindu

Relevant for GS Prelims & Mains Paper II; Polity & Governance