New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that a larger five-judge Constitution bench will hear the petitions challenging the validity of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), while refusing to pass interim orders on the pleas.

The court said it will pass interim orders only after hearing the Centre and gave the government four weeks' time to reply to the pleas. It further restrained all high courts to hearing pleas on CAA till it decides on petitions.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde, hearing a batch of 143 pleas challenging the validity of CAA including those filed by the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, said that it will not grant any stay on CAA without hearing Centre.

Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, told the bench that the government has been given copies of around 60 pleas out of the 143 petitions. He said it wanted time to respond to pleas which have not been served on it.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal urged the bench to put on hold operation of CAA and postpone exercise of the National Population Register (NPR) for the time being.

CJI Bobde said he may ask government to issue some temporary permits for the time being.

AG Venugopal asked the court to freeze filing further petitions against the CAA, contending that "over 140 petitions have been filed and others who wish to be heard, may file intervention application."

The CAA seeks to grant citizenship to migrants belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Jain and Parsi communities who came to the country from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan on or before December 31, 2014.

President Ram Nath Kovind gave assent to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on December 12, turning it into an Act.

The IUML submitted in its plea that CAA violates the fundamental Right to Equality and intends to grant citizenship to a section of illegal immigrants by making an exclusion on the basis of religion.

The plea filed by Congress leader Ramesh, said the Act is a "brazen attack" on core fundamental rights envisaged under the Constitution and treats "equals as unequal".

Several petitions have been filed challenging the constitutional validity of the CAA, including by RJD leader Manoj Jha, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi.

Several other petitioners include Muslim body Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, All Assam Students Union (AASU), Peace Party, CPI, NGOs 'Rihai Manch' and Citizens Against Hate, advocate M L Sharma, and law students have also approached the apex court challenging the Act.

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta