India’s Supreme Court declined calls to suspend the implementation of a new citizenship law on Wednesday, deciding that a constitutional bench of five judges was needed to hear all the challenges to legislation that critics say discriminates against Muslims.
The court gave Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government four weeks to respond to 144 petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the law which has ignited protests across the country.
The law, which came into effect on January 10 after being passed by the parliament in December, lays out a path for citizenship for six religious minorities in neighbouring mostly-Muslim countries — Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
Critics say that the omission of Muslims is discriminatory, and that basing the right to citizenship on religion violates the secular principles of India’s constitution.
Though the protest against the law have a symbolic value, at the end of the day they won’t bring about any change. The citizenship law will have to be challenged in Parliament, and seeing as BJP has the majority and the opposition is mum, there’s no way the law will be abrogated.