Rights or wrong?: On U.N. rights body move against CAA | The Hindu
Context: UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has recently announced its plan to file an application before the Supreme Court for making Commissioner for Human Rights an amicus curiae in case against Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019.
- In December 2019, Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019,was passed by Parliament of India.
- While addressing the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council on 27 February 2020, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has said that CAA is a matter of great concern.
- On 2 March 2020, UN OHCHR formally told Indian Mission in Geneva that OHCHR will file an application before the Supreme Court to seek appointment as amicus curiae and provide an overview of global human rights standards to help SC in the review of CAA.
Critical evaluation of UN OHCHR’s step to file an application for appointment as amicus curiae:
- Points for disagreeing with UN OHCHR’s action: OHCHR’s step to file an application for appointment as amicus curiae can be called as its overreach because legislation is a sovereign right of parliament of any nation. The step is also unnecessary as petitioners in the case will themselves provide an overview of global human rights. The argument of most of the petitioners is that CAA does not provide equal protection of law to all immigrants in India. OHCHR’s step is not needed because SC has taken note of the principles of global international instruments in its previous judgments. SC may admit international human rights standards in the petition against CAA also.
- Points for agreeing with UN OHCHR’s step: Commissioner for Human Rights is not trying to become a petitioner in the case. Commissioner is seeking an appointment as amicus curiae only to offer SC expertise that UN OHCHR carries as the highest department of UN working to promote and safeguard human rights provided by international laws. Commissioner has also praised the positive aspects of CAA and said that CAA might solve the problem of irregular migration, which is the migration of persons outside the laws controlling entry into and exit from countries.
Above points for agreeing and disagreeing with UN OHCHR’s step to file an application for appointment as amicus curiae show that most important factor is the decision of SC whether it gives an opportunity to Commissioner for Human Rights for appointment as amicus curiae or chooses to accept arguments presented by petitioners on the basis of international human rights conventions.
Along with political leaders opposing CAA, many legal and academic experts have given the opinion that CAA gives consideration to religion and violates secular principles. But, the government continued defending CAA by saying that it will not affect current Indian citizens and help minorities facing persecution in countries that have Islam as the state religion. The recent offer from the UN highest department for promotion and protection of human rights to provide an overview of international human rights laws in petitions against CAA increases the responsibility of government. If SC appoints Commissioner for Human Rights as an amicus curiae, the government will have the responsibility to prove that CAA does not violate the Constitution of India, the principle of non-refoulement, or other international human right principles and laws.
Critically evaluate the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)’s step to file an application before Supreme Court for appointment as amicus curiae in petitions challenging recently passed Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019. (150 words)
NEED TO KNOW FACTS:
UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
- UN OHCHR (UN Human Rights) is a part of UN Secretariat.
- Its headquarters is in Geneva and in New York.
- It was established in December, 1993.
- It is headed by High Commissioner for Human Rights.
- It works to protect and promote human rights provided by international laws and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.
- It also works as secretariat of UN Human Rights Council.
- OHCHR is an ex officio member of United Nations Sustainable Development Group (UNSDG), which was earlier known as United Nations Development Group (UNDG).
Principle of non-refoulement prevents countries from returning refugees or asylum seekers to the country where they may face persecution.
Amicus Curiae: One who is not a party to a case but assists the court by furnishing information or advice regarding questions of law or fact.