New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that it won’t put a stay order on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 without hearing the Centre, The bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde allowed the Centre four weeks to reply to the petitions.

The SC bench was hearing a total of 143 petitions filed against the Citizenship Law, which grants Indian citizenship to non-muslim migrants from the neighbouring countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan coming to India to flee religious persecution. Among these petitions, there were those filed by Congress MP Jairam Ramesh, AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi, TMC MP Mahua Moitra etc. A five-judge Constitution Bench was set up to hear the pleas. The Supreme Court also restrained all high courts from hearing CAA-related pleas.

The petitions were filed on December 13, 2019, soon after the Bill was passed. The SC bench issued a notice to the Centre and refused to impose a stay order. Again, early this month, the bench desisted from hearing these PILs as the country was going through “difficult times”, the CJI had noted earlier.

On Wednesday, the hearing witnessed a dramatic proceeding as a massive crowd was present in the courtroom.

Advocate KK Venugopal for Centre said that the Centre needs more time to respond as it has got copies of around 60 pleas out of 143 petitions challenging the CAA. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal urged the Bench to put on hold the operations of CAA and postpone the exercise of NPR for the time being.