'We are only going to the Supreme Court to protect the rights (of Muslims) which are given by the Constitution. Nothing more.'
A day after the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was been passed by the Rajya Sabha, the Indian Union Muslim League challenged it in the Supreme Court, saying the legislation is against the basic principles of the Constitution.
Leaders of the IUML -- a member of the United Progressive Alliance -- also met Congress MP and senior lawyer Kapil Sibal who is likely to present their case in the apex court.
"Today they are excluding Muslims, tomorrow there can be someone else -- like people speaking a particular language or from a particular region," P V Abdul Wahab, IUML's Rajya Sabha MP from Kerala who is also the party's national treasurer, tells Rediff.com's Syed Firdaus Ashraf.
Why has the IUML challenged the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 in the Supreme Court?
There was no way out other than going to the Supreme Court. It is the only authority to verify the validity of law (passed by Parliament).
We feel the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is against the fundamentals of the Constitution. It is a draconian law.
Is it because it is particularly discriminatory against Muslims?
It is discriminatory and against the spirit of the Constitution.
It is against Muslims today. But tomorrow it could be against everybody.
We are all equal according to the Constitution and this bill violates the spirit of the Constitution.
Home Minister Amit Shah specifically told Parliament that this bill is to give citizenship and not to take it away from anyone.
We are not against giving citizenship. But it should not be discriminatory.
According to the Constitution, we are all equal.
The Bharatiya Janata Party's argument is that Bangladeshi and Pakistani Muslims come to India for economic gains, whereas Hindus from these countries come because of religious persecution.
For whatever reason they come, the Government of India has the right to grant or refuse them citizenship.
It doesn't matter if somebody comes in the name of Islam, Hinduism or Sikhism, but their reason must be just.
And if it is the case then they can be given citizenship. Similarly, it can be denied if their reason for coming to India is not satisfactory.
The argument here is that Muslims from pre-Partition India got homelands in Pakistan and Bangladesh. So why do they need to come to India?
India is not a Hindu or Muslim or Christian country. India is a secular country.
The RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) spoke about a two-nation theory and because of that all this happened.
Now they want to make India a Hindu country, but it is not possible because of the Constitution.
Do you mean that what Muhammad Ali Jinnah said 80 years ago about India being a Hindu country has been proven correct?
We are not concerned with what Jinnah said. He played (his politics) for whatever reasons. It is not an issue today as India is a country with secular credentials.
Pakistan went on to become a Islamic country, but only ostensibly as Muslims who migrated from India were called Mohajirs (refugees). They are still called the same.
They have their own party in Pakistan (the Muttahida Qaumi Movement). So it means that in Pakistan, Muslims are also persecuted.
And if Hindus are persecuted in Pakistan, we are not against giving them Indian citizenship. Our only concern is that if a Pakistani Muslim is persecuted (by the State), s/he should also get citizenship.
Like (Bangladeshi author) Taslima Nasreen was persecuted by the Bangladesh government so she should also get Indian citizenship.
You feel Taslima Nasreen should get Indian citizenship?
If she is being persecuted in Bangladesh, yes.
Today they are excluding Muslims (from the CAB), tomorrow there can be someone else -- like people speaking a particular language or belonging to a particular region.
Therefore, we have to uproot this (law) at this stage.
The BJP has got a hidden agenda and therefore we are against them.
What is the BJP's hidden agenda and what are your fears for the future?
You see in the NRC (National Register of Citizens) in Assam, there were more non-Muslims than Muslims. So now these non-Muslims will become Indian citizens overnight.
The BJP had the Citizenship Bill in its manifesto and the people voted for the party. They say we have the people's support.
You cannot change the spirit of the Constitution even if you have 100 per cent seats in Parliament.
The minorities have special rights in India in spite of Articles 14 and 15. Why do you think the CAB violates these Articles?
They are changing the basic structure of the Constitution.
Let the court decide (whether the law is unconstitutional).
Many Hindus empathise with Hindu refugees and say if not India, where will they go?
They are most welcome. We are not against them. But don't think all Muslims can go to other countries.
Being a Muslim, I don't want to go to any Muslim country because India is a secular country. All other Muslim countries are either monarchies or dictatorships. India is far better.
Can I go to Saudi Arabia just like that? They have their own laws. The same way I cannot go to Indonesia and settle there just because I am a Muslim.
So far, Muslims in India are not persecuted. We do have problems, but we overcome those problems because of the Constitution.
Your party is the successor of the All India Muslim League that demanded Partition. Now you are opposing a move intended to benefit Hindu refugees from across the border. Don't you think this sends a wrong message to Hindus?
The IUML goes back 72 years. It has been working here for these many years and everything that we do is transparent.
You cannot compare Jinnah's Muslim League to our party.
But you are approaching the Supreme Court against Hindu refugees.
We are not going to take away anyone's rights. We are only going to the Supreme Court to protect the rights (of Muslims) which are given by the Constitution. Nothing more.