India’s Supreme Court delays hearing citizenship law pleas, Latest World News - The New Paper

India’s Supreme Court delays hearing citizenship law pleas

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NEW DELHI India's Supreme Court yesterday postponed hearing pleas challenging the constitutionality of a new citizenship law that has sparked opposition and massive protests across the country.

The court said it would consider the pleas on Jan 22.

Protests and widespread condemnation have been growing against the Citizenship Amendment Act, with demonstrations erupting over the last week.

The new law applies to Hindus, Christians and other religious minorities who are in India illegally but can demonstrate religious persecution in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

It does not apply to Muslims.

Critics say the new law is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist-led government's agenda to marginalise India's 200 million Muslims and it goes against the spirit of the country's secular Constitution.

Mr Modi has defended it as a humanitarian gesture.

Its passage last week follows a contentious citizenship registry process in north-eastern India's Assam state intended to weed out people who entered the country illegally.Nearly two million people in Assam were excluded from the list, about half Hindu and half Muslim, and have been asked to prove their citizenship or else be considered foreign.

On Sunday, marches by students at New Delhi's Jamia Millia Islamia university and Aligarh Muslim University in northern state of Uttar Pradesh descended into chaos when police fired tear gas and beat unarmed protesters with wooden sticks.

Scores of students were injured. - AP