What is Citizenship Amendment Act: The law & Guidelines
What is the Citizenship Amendment Act
The Citizenship Amendment bill has been introduced to change the provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955, which would change the rules relating to the grant of citizenship.
The aforementioned amendment to the citizenship bill will pave the way for Hindus from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan as well as Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians to gain Indian citizenship without valid documents.
The Duration of residency will be reduced
Who has lived in the country for 11 years is eligible to acquire citizenship of India. The Citizenship Amendment Act provides for reducing the duration of residency for refugees from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan from 11 years to 6 years.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah has also talked about amending the citizenship law during several meetings. The most vocal voice against this law is that of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
She has already refused to implement NRC in West Bengal. The passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act will change the current law.
What is proposed in the Citizenship Amendment Bill?
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 19 July 2016. It was submitted to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on 12 August 2016. The committee gave its report on this in January 2019 this year.
Consequently, on 9 December 2019, the Bill was again introduced in the Lok Sabha, where it was passed by voice vote late at night.
This bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on 11 December 2019 and also passed there. Because this bill has been passed by Parliament, now all illegal migrant Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh will be eligible for Indian citizenship after the President's signature and published in the Gazette.
Besides, people of all six religions of these three countries will also be exempted from the rule of getting Indian citizenship.
All such expatriates who have been living in India for six years will be able to get citizenship here. Earlier this time limit was 11 years.
Why there is a dispute over the Citizenship Amendment Bill?
The bill makes their religion the basis of getting citizenship for illegal migrants. This proposal has sparked controversy. Because if this happens, it would be a violation of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, which talks about the right to equality.
Under Discussion for many years
The Home Ministry had declared in the year 2018 that collectors of certain districts of seven states can accept online applications to grant citizenship to persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh residing in India. All such people will be given citizenship after receiving the verification report from the states and the center.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has empowered collectors in Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi under Section 5 and 6 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 to provide citizenship and natural certificates to migrants. The previous year, the Ministry of Home Affairs also made a change in Schedule 1 of the Citizenship Rules, 2009.
Following the new rules, it will be mandatory for anyone of Indian origin to declare their religion while seeking citizenship on the following matters:
- For someone married to an Indian citizen.
- Children of Indian citizens who were born abroad.
- The person whose parents are registered as Indian citizens.
- The person whose one of the parents has been a citizen of independent India.
- Importantly, there is no mention of religion in the Citizenship Act, 1955.
- The Act grants citizenship in five ways: on the basis of birth, descent, registration, naturalization, and naturalization.
Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2016
- The Citizenship Amendment Act was passed to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955.
- The Citizenship Amendment Bill-2016 calls for granting citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian minorities (not including Muslims) from neighboring countries (Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan), even if they have the necessary documents or not.
- According to the Citizenship Act, 1955, an immigrant is allowed to apply for natural citizenship only if he has been residing in India for 12 months immediately before applying and has been in India for 11 of the last 14 years.
- The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2016 proposes amendments in Schedule 3 of the Act in this regard so that they become eligible for citizenship on completion of 6 years instead of 11 years.
- If foreign citizens of India (Overseas Citizen of India -OCI) cardholders violate any law, their registration will be canceled.
Problems related to Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2016This amendment considers Muslim people coming from neighboring countries as 'illegal migrants' while excluding almost all others from the scope of this definition. Thus, it is a violation of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.
The law allows the cancellation of OCI registration in violation of any law. This is a broad base that can involve a wide range of violations, including minor offenses (such as parking vehicles in a no-parking area).