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The un-VICE NEWS, Article 14 and Subramanian Swamy

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Adrit Chaturvedi
I am an engineering undergraduate student at IIT Delhi
 

Vice News, on its YouTube channel, recently published a video titled ‘India Burning (Clip).’ While you may have come across the IGTV video of the same on the Instagram stories of newly formed and very honest Instagram ‘influencers’, who also happen to be the most deserving humans, alongside their utter disgust for our upper parliamentary house, that it constitutes of someone like Dr. Subramanian Swamy.

“How can a ruling party leader say that Muslims are not equal to other humans?”

“This hate-mongering is what leads to communal violence.”

“Ashamed to be an Indian today.”

Hold it there, my ignorant radical leftist screwballs, be honest for once, and try to understand the elaborated position of Dr. Swamy, which he has been reiterating in the house and the media like a beating drum. In the description of the YouTube video, Vice writes that this video clip is part of an investigation to the ‘growing fear that Hindu supremacism may undermine secularism and relegate India’s Muslims into second-class citizens.’ That is justified, right? After all, in the video, Dr. Swamy answers a question by saying, “There is no such thing as equal rights, they are not in a[n] equal category” while referring to illegal Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. Whether this is ignorance of the journalist asking the questions or her mere leftist hypocrisy, she has failed to understand the answer.

Dr. Swamy is not, in the slightest part of his mind, trying to suggest that Muslims are inferior to Hindus in India. Nor is he asserting that a Muslim immigrant is inferior to a non-Muslim immigrant. He simply said that they are not in an ‘equal category,’ so as to say, that inequality does not necessarily mean subordination; it is just different. Non-Muslim Immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh come to India for a fundamentally different situation and reason. So putting them in the same category as Muslim immigrants from the three countries is misleading to the constitution. It is understood that non-Muslims flee the three countries for avoiding religious persecution i.e. for being non-Muslims. Whereas, the same standard cannot be applied to the immigrating Muslims, as they will not be persecuted for following their religion i.e. being Muslims in the 3 countries. And Dr. Swamy tries to explain his position but was interrupted by the interviewer, so now we cannot know whether he was allowed to elaborate because the clip is trimmed. 

 

The different or ‘unequal’ (and not subordinate) category of Muslim and non-Muslim immigrants from the relevant three countries is of great emphasis to the application of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. Article 14 says, ‘The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India’, often cited as ‘Equality before law.’ Plainly, the article seems to suggest that any person within the Indian territory has equality before the law. So, the apparent imperative is that Muslim and non-Muslim immigrants from the relevant three countries should be equal before the law and for protection of the laws. CAA prioritizes Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian immigrants, over Muslim immigrants, by removing them from the category of ‘Illegal migrant’(in the Citizenship Act of 1955) and easing the naturalization rule of 11 years to 5 years. So Article 14 is being violated as this is the inferior treatment of Muslim immigrants.

As Dr. Swamy points out in the video, this is a misinterpretation of Article 14. Article 14, along with its particular case Article 16, has been in perusal by the courts down the ages. And so, understanding the underlying principle is of high relevance in its application. One of the intelligible judgments can be that of Judge Jaswant Singh in Ramesh Prasad Singh vs State Of Bihar, 1978 in the Supreme Court coupled with the citation of State Of Mysore & Anr vs P. Narasing Rao, 1968 used in its judgment. Judge Jaswant Singh in his judgment directed towards the endmost and quoted,

It is well-settled that though Art. 14 forbids class legislation, it does not forbid reasonable classification for the purposes of legislation. When any impugned rule or statutory provision is assailed on the ground that it contravenes Art. 14, its validity can be sustained if two tests are satisfied. The first test is that the classification on which it is founded must be based on an intelligible differentia which distinguishes persons or things grouped together from others left out of the group; the second test is that the differentia in question must have a reasonable relation to the object sought to be achieved by the rule or statutory provision in question. In other words, there must be some rational nexus between the basis of classification and the object intended to be achieved by the statute or the rule’.

 

Two tests were given in application Article 14 to an ‘impugned rule’. Here, the rule can be seen as the Citizenship Amendment Act or the CAA. The first test requires the classification (here the classification of Muslim and non-Muslim immigrants) must be based on an intelligible differentia, which here is religious community. The second test requires the differentia, here religious community, to have a reasonable relation to the object of procurement, here Citizenship ease. And this where we reach the heart of the issue, the only reason for having a distinction based on religion is because the immigrant’s religion itself puts him in a different situation.

Non-Muslim immigrants, when were in their original country i.e. one of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, were persecuted for being non-Muslims. So their immigration to India situates them in a different position within the territory of India than the immigration of Muslims form the relevant three countries. And this in line with the statement that comes later in the quoted judgement i.e. ‘there is no denial of equality of opportunity unless the person who complains of discrimination is equally situated with the person or persons who are alleged to have been favoured‘. Since the Muslim and non-Muslim immigrants from the relevant three countries are not equally situated, ease in citizenship procurement for the non-Muslim immigrants is not a ‘denial of equal opportunity’.

The video started with a clip of about 5 seconds, where Dr. Subramanian Swamy is addressing the issue of the CAA in the house. And in the same very address of 10 minutes, Dr. Swamy elaborated his position on Article 14 and cited A.R. Antulay vs R.S. Nayak & Anr on 29 April, 1988, which explains the same.

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Adrit Chaturvedi
I am an engineering undergraduate student at IIT Delhi

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