New Delhi, Mar 3: In an unprecedented and rare move, the Geneva-based Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has announced that it plans to file an application in the Indian Supreme Court, asking to be impleaded in the petitions challenging the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the United Nations body had no right to file a petition that will ask the court to appoint the Commissioner for Human Rights as an assistant or ‘amicus curiae’ in the case.

The OHCHR plan has been criticised by diplomatic and legal experts here, including one of the 22 petitioners in the case, as an “overreach” by it.

“The High Commissioner [Michelle Bachelete] intends to submit an ‘amicus curiae’ brief shortly on the Citizenship [Amendment] Act [CAA] in the Indian Supreme Court, in accordance with the Court’s established procedures, and she has informed the Indian Permanent Mission in Geneva of her intention,” Rupert Colville, OHCHR spokesperson based in Geneva, said. 

“The amicus curiae will focus on providing an overview of relevant and applicable international human rights standards and norms to support the Court’s deliberations in the context of its review of the CAA,” the spokesperson said.

U.N. sources said Ms. Bachelet had informed India about the plans to file the intervention in the Supreme Court when she met with MEA Secretary (West) Vikas Swarup while he was in Geneva to represent India at the Human Rights Council plenary session last week. 

The MEA didn’t confirm the claim but said the Indian Mission in Geneva had been formally informed on March 2 of the OHCHR’s plans.

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