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Wednesday 29 January 2020

Prasad tells Kerala govt citizenship law beyond state remit

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told Kerala Chief Minister P Vijayan to get better legal advice to know what were central and state subjects

The deadlock between the Kerala government and the union on the issue of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) continues. A day after passing a resolution against the CAA in Kerala assembly and criticising the BJP for the amendment in the law of 1955, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan made a constitution-defying statement on Wednesday, saying that state legislatures have their privileges. Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was quick to retort that it is the constitutional obligation of the states to implement the laws passed in the parliament.

Following the resolution against the CAA in the Kerala assembly on Tuesday, Ravi Shankar Prasad attacked the LDF government, saying Chief Minister Vijayan should seek “better legal advice”. Prasad said that only the parliament, and not any state assembly, has the power to make laws on citizenship.

Prasad said it was the constitutional duty of the state governments to implement the laws passed by the parliament. States that are saying they will not implement CAA in their respective areas of jurisdiction should seek appropriate legal opinion before making such statements.

On Tuesday, BJP’s Rajya Sabha member GVL Narasimha Rao had written a letter to Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, requesting contempt proceedings against the chief minister of Kerala for violation of the parliament’s privileges. When asked on this subject, Vijayan said, “State legislatures have their own privileges. No such action was heard of against any.”

However, given the high-strung nature of politics at the present, no possibility can be dismissed, more so as the Narendra Modi government has made it absolutely clear that it is no backtracking on the amended law. Vijayan had also said that assemblies could not be violated.

The chief minister had said, “Kerala has become the first state to pass a resolution against a law that is in violation of the basic principles of the constitution and has great significance.”

When asked about state governor Arif Mohammad Khan supporting the CAA, Vijayan said, “He is entitled to express his opinion on various issues. His views can be seen in that way.”

Kerala became the first state in the country to pass a resolution against the CAA on Tuesday. Earlier, non-BJP ruled states such as West Bengal, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh had announced that they would not implement the CAA, notwithstanding the clarification from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs that this was not possible.

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