Kolkata: The governor of West Bengal – Jagdeep Dhankhar, might come a long way since September 2019, when he refused to meet the representatives of Joint Forum Against NRC to meeting them on February 10, 2020.
On Monday, a five-member delegation of the Forum met the governor to submit a memorandum opposing the NPR, NRC and CAA 2019 and have a brief discussion on issues raised by the Forum.
Governor backtracks on State Assembly Speech
Speaking to eNewsroon, Prasenjit Bose, one of the conveners of the Forum, said, “We had met the governor with the sole intention of seeking an assurance from him that the state government employees would not cooperate with the NPR exercise which is going to commence from April 1, 2020. His recent speech in the State Assembly, where he was critical of NPR, NRC and CAA, had perhaps made us approach him.”
He then paused and said, “However, during the interaction, the governor made it clear that he had merely read out the speech handed over to him by the state government and that he personally didn’t endorse with certain sections of the speech and that sometime soon he would be sharing his personal views in the public. As a custodian of the Constitution, we feel that that this was improper and partisan conduct on the part of the Governor, who is bound by the views of the democratically elected State Government on policy matters. However, we will wait for him to make his opinion public.”
On February 7, inside Bengal assembly, the governor had read out speech which was critical of CAA. In his 25-page long speech, prepared by Mamata Banerjee government, Dhankhar had even read out that, “There is a general air of intolerance, bigotry and hatred in the country.”
SC has powers to strike down CAA
Interestingly, the governor during this meeting even tried convincing the delegates to accept the law (CAA) passed in the Parliament. Reacting to this, Deborshi Chakraborty said, “It seems like our present governor, is not very much aware of how the law of the land works. If he feels that every Indian is bound to accept the law passed by the Parliament, then he is wrong. For the Apex Court has special powers to strike down laws that don’t seem apt. Also, when he should get a grip on his knowledge on how a federal government works. The state definitely has its own set of powers and say. The centre can’t enact any law forcefully, if the state government doesn’t feel the need of that law in its region.”
During the meeting the Forum delegates highlighted the hundred odd petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the law, and people across the country are protesting on the streets. The representatives even asked him to peruse the memorandum submitted, to which he has assured a written response.
Writ Petition questions legality of NPR
Chakraborty, when asked about the recent writ petition filed by him before the Apex Court questioning the constitutionality of the NPR exercise (Deborshi Chakraborty Vs. Union of India, Diary No. 5348-2020), he said, “NPR breaches the privacy of Indian citizens, that apart, there is no data protection clause to protect the data that will be collected by the government in the name of NPR exercise. The information collection can be used by anyone for any purpose, hence we want SC to intervene and stop its implementation.”
He then added, “NPR has no statutory status, as no legislation has been passed in the Parliament to have it implemented. NPR is a rule of CAA 2003, to facilitate the better implementation of NRIC, which till date has not been announced by the government. So, technically there is no legal binding to have NPR 2020 implemented.”
The writ petition filed also legally challenges the validity of Sections 14A and 18(3) of the Citizenship Act, 1955 (as amended in 2003); the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003; Union Home Ministry notification initiating NPR dated 31.09.2019 and the Instruction Manual for Updation of NPR 2020.
Meanwhile, the Forum is all set to launch an intensive mass campaign against NPR, NRC and CAA 2019 through a Village to City Padyatra in the last week of February.