The Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy and India International Centre hosted the third conversation in the series ‘Of Bridges and Breaks: The Constitution at a Crossroads‘ on 23rd November, 2021. This conversation focussed on ‘The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 and Discrimination Law’.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (“CAA”) has been a lightning rod of controversy, drawing out starkly different public views about the law’s legitimacy. Conspicuously, discussions on the subject have heavily relied on the language of the Constitution and its promise of equality, non-discrimination, and secularism.
However, there is much about the constitutional guarantee of equality that needs clarification before it can be meaningfully applied in the case of the CAA. This is especially so in the case of discrimination law, a field of law that protects individuals and groups against discrimination on the basis of characteristics like race, religion, sex and caste.
Despite the passage of decades since the adoption of the Constitution, the right against discrimination remains underdeveloped in India, and it is worth considering how this underdevelopment has translated into the divisive public discourse on the CAA. Whether in relation with the supposedly unique character of India’s secularism or its approach to subjects like gender equality, reservations, disability rights, and LGBT rights, the fate of the CAA has a significant bearing on the future of Indian society and it is critical that we clarify the implications of different constitutional choices.
- Prof. Mohsin Alam Bhat, Associate Professor and Executive Director, Centre for Public Interest Law, Jindal Global Law School
- Thulasi K. Raj, Advocate, Supreme Court of India and Kerala High Court; Visiting Fellow, Melbourne Law School; Research Visitor, Bonavero Institute of Human Rights
The conversation was moderated by Lalit Panda, Senior Resident Fellow (Charkha), Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy.
About ‘Of Bridges and Breaks: The Constitution at a Crossroads
Charkha, Vidhi’s research centre dedicated to constitutional law, in collaboration with the India International Centre, has launched a year-long series of nuanced digital conversations on the Constitution of India titled “Of Bridges and Breaks: The Constitution at a Crossroads”.
Recent developments in India indicate it is of utmost importance that we pay attention to the acceleration of constitutional change, as well as the widespread reliance on the document’s language and ethos. As part of this series, we will facilitate conversations between academicians, legal practitioners, and social workers, to underscore how different constitutional structures play out in practice.