Citizenship Amendment Act 2019
|CITIZENSHIP AMENDEMNT ACT 2019|
Context – Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019 was recently enacted by the Parliament that seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955.
- 11 of constitution empowers Parliament to make any provision with respect to the acquisition and termination of citizenship and all other matters relating to citizenship.
- Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003 provided that ‘illegal migrants’ will not be eligible to apply for citizenship by either registration or naturalisation.
- Section 2(1)(b) of Citizenship Act, 1955 defines “illegal migrant” as a foreigner who: –
- Enters the country without valid travel documents, like a passport and visa or
- Enters with valid documents, but stays beyond the permitted time period.
|KEY PROVISIONS OF THE CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT (CAA), 2019|
- The amendment provides that illegal migrants who fulfil four conditions will not be treated as illegal migrants under the Act. The conditions are: –
- They are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis or Christians – Total six communities barring Muslim community.
- They are from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan
- They entered India on or before December 31, 2014
- They are not in certain tribal areas included in Sixth Schedule to the Constitution (Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, or Tripura) or areas under the “Inner Line” permit (Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland à AMiN)
- These tribal areas include Karbi-Anglong (in Assam), Garo Hills (in Meghalaya), Chakma District (in Mizoram), and Tripura Tribal Areas District.
- All legal proceedings against above category of migrants in respect of their illegal migration or citizenship will be closed.
- The period of naturalisation has been reduced from 11 years to 5 years for above category of migrants.
|CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF CAA 2019|
|ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE ACT|
- The fundamental criticism of the Bill has been that it specifically targets Muslims.
- Critics argue that it isviolative of Art. 14 (the right to equality) of the Constitution and the principle of secularism which has enshrined in preamble.
- India has several other refugees that includeTamils from Sri Lanka and Hindu Rohingya from Myanmar. They are not covered under the Act.
- Despite exemption granted to some regions in the North-eastern states, the prospect of citizenship for massive numbers of illegal Bangladeshi migrants has triggered deep anxieties in the states.
- It will be difficult for the government to differentiate and delineation between illegal migrants and those persecuted.
|ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR|
- The government has clarified that Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh are Islamic republic whereMuslims are in majority hence they cannot be treated as persecuted minorities. It has assured that the government will examine the application from any other community on a case to case basis.
- This Bill will come as a big boon to all those people who have been thevictims of Partition and the subsequent conversion of the three countries into theocratic Islamic republics.
- Citing partition between India and Pakistan on religious lines in 1947, the government has argued that millions of citizens of undivided India belonging to various faiths were staying in Pakistan and Bangladesh from 1947.
- The constitutions of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh provide for a specific state religion. As a result, many persons belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities have faced persecution on grounds of religion in those countries.
- Many such persons have fled to India to seek shelter and continued to stay in India even if their travel documents have expired or they have incomplete or no documents.
- After Independence, not once but twice, India conceded that the minorities in its neighbourhood is its responsibility.
- First, immediately after Partition
- Second during the Indira-Mujib Pact in 1972 when India had agreed to absorb over 1.2 million refugees. It is a historical fact that on both occasions, it was only the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians who had come over to Indian side.
|EXCEPTIONS TO CAA 2019|
- Under sub section 6B of Citizenship Amendment Act, says that “nothing in this section shall apply to-
- Tribal area of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura (AMTM) as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution.
- The area covered under ‘The Inner Line’ notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873. (AMiN states – Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland)