Senior Congress leader Margaret Alva on Saturday said the Citizenship (Amendment) Act “negates” constitutional guarantees and rights given to all Indians and that the judicial system which is supposed to be the protector and the interpreter of the Constitution “has failed us”.
Speaking at the ‘Of the People, By the People: The Indian Constitution’ session at the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival in Jaipur, the former governor of Rajasthan said she had expected the courts “to be more active and more vocal” on the matter.
“Of late, identity is being associated with religion. I don’t know how or why this has begun to take root. We have been told that certain people are welcome and certain are not, some get automatic citizenship and others do not. To me this is a negation of the constitutional guarantees and rights given to all Indians,” she said.
The 77-year-old politician said even when courts, in repeated judgements, have said the basic features of the Constitution cannot be touched, “how then today are we debating the whole question of what is secularism?”
“Today, I would have expected the courts to be more active and more vocal and I am more than disappointed that our judicial system, which was supposed to be the protector, the interpreter and the defender of the Constitution and the constitutional rights of the citizens, has failed us,” she said.
She lamented that the institution, which was supposed to defend the basic features, the fundamental rights of citizens has gone “silent” at a very crucial time in Indian history.
“I refuse to submit any papers to anyone. Having been an Indian citizen for 70 years, who are you to ask me to prove my identity? I tell you to go check the records of Yerwada jail and Arthur Road jail, you will find names of my forefathers in the list of freedom fighters. I don’t think Mr Shah can claim the same,” she said.
The former Rajya Sabha member also urged people to take part in the civil disobedience movement. “If anyone comes to your doorstep, don’t fill any forms, tear them down. Just do not cooperate,” she added.