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Ravi Shankar Prasad says it is ‘constitutional duty’ of states to implement Citizenship Act

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The Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Wednesday that it is the state governments “constitutional duty” to implement the laws passed by Parliament, referring to Citizenship Act.

Union Law minister’s remark comes a day after the CPI(M) led Kerala state government passed a resolution in the state assembly opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan of the ruling CPI(M) led LDF tabled the resolution in the State Assembly. Except BJP leader O Rajagopal, every other MLA, including those from the opposition, supported the resolution. Rajagopal had contended the that the resolution was illegal, as both the Houses of Parliament had passed the Act.

While presenting the resolution, the Kerala CM had also said there won’t be any detention centres in the state. The CM added that “if secularism is threatened, it would weaken the existence of the country”.

Ravi Shankar Prasad also said, “the states which say that they would not implement the amended citizenship law should seek appropriate legal opinion before taking such decisions.”

Till now, four state governments except Kerala, ruled by non-BJP parties— Punjab, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh — have assured that they will not implement the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, saying “the ruling BJP at the Centre is undermining the secular and democratic foundations of the country”.

Citizenship Law

However, the states don’t really have a choice as matter of citizenship comes under the Union List.

But, since the rules and directives haven’t been framed in case of this act, hence it is at the behest of the central government to appropriately moderate the rules in its favour. The union government has the option to frame the rules and can completely oust the role of the state government in its implementation.

The newly amended Citizenship Act in its present form as well doesn’t empower the state government to exercise the choice of not implementing the directives.

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