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Kerala challenges Indian citizenship law in top court

New Delhi
India’s southern state of Kerala on Tuesday became the first in the country to legally challenge a new citizenship law that has sparked nationwide protests.
The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019 is a violation of several articles of the constitution, including the right to equality, Kerala’s left-wing government said in its petition before the Supreme Court.
The law also goes against the secular nature of the constitution, according to the petition available on legal website LiveLaw.
Kerala’s assembly was also the first state assembly in India to pass a resolution against the law, which is strongly backed by the federal government and the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
There have been demonstrations for weeks against the CAA, which omits Muslims from a list of religious groups from three neighbouring Muslim-majority countries who are entitled to fast-track citizenship. Critics have said the law defies India’s secular constitution and constitutes an attempt at marginalising India’s minority Muslim population.
The BJP government says the law would not affect the rights of any citizen of India, Hindu or Muslim, and has accused opponents of spreading misinformation.
At least 60 petitions filed by political parties and civil society groups challenging the validity of the new law are pending before the top court and are due to be heard on January 22.
In India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, which is ruled by the BJP, authorities have already started enacting the law as of January 10.
State minister and spokesman Shrikant Sharma told reporters on Monday that the government had begun identifying illegal migrants who might be eligible for citizenship under the law.