Explained: Article 131,on which Kerala has based its challenge to the CAA

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News:Recently,the Kerala government has moved the Supreme Court against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.This will make Kerala the first state to challenge the law under Article 131 of the Constitution.

Facts:

About Article 131:

  • The Article 131 vests the Supreme Court with original jurisdiction over disputes occurring between states or between states and the Centre. 
  • The original jurisdiction means the power to hear a case for the first time, as opposed to appellate jurisdiction in which the court reviews the decision of a lower court.
  • Further,unlike the original jurisdiction under Article 32 which gives the top court the power to issue writs but the jurisdiction in Article 131 is exclusive meaning it is only the Supreme Court which has this authority. 

Disputes on which Article 131 can be used:The Supreme Court shall to the exclusion of any other court have original jurisdiction in any dispute on:

  • between the Government of India and one or more States; or
  • between the Government of India and any State or States on one side and one or more other States on the other; or
  • between two or more States

Exception:

  • The dispute must involve a question (whether of law or fact) on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends.
  • The jurisdiction shall not extend to a dispute arising out of any treaty, agreement or other similar instrument which having been entered into or executed before the commencement of this Constitution continues in operation after such commencement or which provides that the said jurisdiction shall not extend to such a dispute.

Cases related to Article 131:

  • In State of Bihar v. Union of India the court held that the dispute between the state of Bihar and the Hindustan Steel Ltd did not fall under Article 131 as Hindustan steel was not considered to be a state.
  • In the case of State of Rajasthan v. Union of India, the question was whether the word states come under the meaning of the state government or not.The Supreme Court held that it had the original jurisdiction to entertain the proceeding.