By Narsi Benwal

Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog

Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog

Mumbai: “It would be illogical to ask people not to be scared of the new Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), because this fear has been created by you (government),” Bombay High Court’s outgoing Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog said on Saturday, commenting on the widespread protests across the country against CAA-NRC-NPR.

In an exclusive conversation with The Free Press Journal, Chief Justice Nandrajog, who is set to retire on February 24 after having served as a judge for nearly 18 years, said ‘half the damage’ is done through the National Population Register (NPR), as people fear the next step would be to slip the National Register of Citizens (NRC) through. The government must be ‘transparent’ as it is answerable to the people, CJ Nandrajog said.

“The government must be transparent on this issue and come up with its rules and what it proposes to be the standard of proof. But instead of doing all this, they (government) have done half the damage by introducing the National Population Register across the country.

The next step is to slip it (NRC) through,” he said. Speaking about the opposition to, and apprehensions regarding CAA-NRC-NPR, CJ Nandrajog said, “There are two ways to look at the issue. One is the logical reasoning; whether it stands the test of the Constitution as, except for Articles 21 and 14, all others are applicable only on the citizens of our country. So the ones who do not have citizenship would be immigrants, and they cannot claim discrimination.”

“The other way to look at this aspect is through Constitutional values, which go beyond the technical language of the Constitution. Here, any discrimination on the basis of religion would be against the touchstone of our constitutional values,” he added.

According to CJ Nandrajog, the citizens protesting across the country should have waited for the government to publish the rules for NRC. “But at the same time, I think they are scared, especially because of what has happened in Assam, wherein a large number of people have become stateless. And then the courts there have held that documents like Aadhaar, PAN, voter id etc. are not proof of citizenship,” the judge pointed out.