Foreign MPs raise heat over CAA after UNHCR move

A plea filed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) in the Supreme Court on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has triggered a fierce debate whether the law is just and does not infringe upon the international human rights conventions. While India has maintained that it is an internal matter, and asserted its sovereign right to make laws in parliament, opinions remained divided over the issue, both at home and abroad.The UNHCHR’s plea came days after dozens of people were killed and injured in Delhi during a violent anti-CAA protest, which further raised the heat over the issue.

In her petition to the apex court, UNHCHR Michelle Bachelet Jeria stated, “CAA can potentially benefit thousands of migrants in an irregular situation, including refugees, who might otherwise face obstacles in obtaining protection from persecution in their countries of origin, including through the grant of citizenship. This is commendable.” However, she added that the law “raises a number of issues related to India’s wider human rights obligations in the context of fundamental principle of non-refoulement that is no forced repatriation of refugees to their home country.”

Reacting to the development, Raveesh Kumar, the spokesperson of India’s Ministry of External Affairs, reiterated that the CAA is “constitutionally valid and no foreign party has any locus standi on issues pertaining to India’s sovereignty.” “India is a democratic country governed by the rule of law. We all have the utmost respect for and full trust in our independent judiciary. We are confident that our sound and legally sustainable position will be vindicated by the Supreme Court,” the spokesperson said.Last week, Iran had criticized the wave of “organized violence against Indian Muslims”. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif urged the Indian authorities to “ensure the wellbeing of all Indians and not let senseless thuggery prevail”. In response, India had summoned Iranian Ambassador to protest the foreign minister’s remarks.

On March 3, several British MPs, representing the Labour Party, SNP, Liberal Democrats and Conservative, as well as Indian-origin lawmakers in the House of Commons, criticized the Indian government over the Delhi violence and the Citizenship Act, urging the UK government to take strong action.Junior minister in the FCO Nigel Adams said the events in Delhi were “very concerning” and the UK was monitoring the violence and developments around CAA “closely”. “Any allegation of human rights abuses is deeply disturbing and we have made it clear these must be investigated thoroughly, promptly and transparently,” Mr Adams said. Tory MP Richard Graham said videos showed “shocking orchestrated sectarian violence” and asked the minister to invite the UK Indian high commissioner to his office to share with him the “deep concerns”.

Labour MP Stephen Timms said the CAA was “a decisive move away” from Dr Ambedkar’s Constitution, which was admired around the world for its commitment to equality. Labour MP and PIO Tan Dhesi said “incited mob violence in Delhi on the basis of someone’s faith” brought back painful memories of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots when he was studying in India. He said that the “persecution of Indian Muslims”, many of whom have been peacefully protesting against CAA, is “utterly intolerable”.

The apex court had on December 18 last year sought response of the Centre on a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of CAA. The UNHCHR plea urged the top court to take into account the international human rights law, norms, and standards, in the proceedings related to CAA and termed it “important” for India and its diverse communities which have been welcomed by the State. The CAA also raises other issues “including its compatibility in relation to the right to equality before the law and non-discrimination on nationality grounds under India’s human rights obligations”, the plea said.


Author Profile

India Writes Network
India Writes Network
India Writes Network ( is an emerging think tank and a media-publishing company focused on international affairs & the India Story. Centre for Global India Insights is the research arm of India Writes Network. To subscribe to India and the World, write to A venture of TGII Media Private Limited, a leading media, publishing and consultancy company, IWN has carved a niche for balanced and exhaustive reporting and analysis of international affairs. Eminent personalities, politicians, diplomats, authors, strategy gurus and news-makers have contributed to India Writes Network, as also “India and the World,” a magazine focused on global affairs.