CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT

As the name of the act says it is trying to amend the laws related to citizenship. First of all lets us talk about The Citizenship Act, 1955 which was passed on 30th December 1955 and enacted at the 6th year of Republic of India in brief and it says-

  1. Who can become a citizen of India?
  2. What are the ways to become an Indian citizen?
  3. How a person can lose Indian citizenship?

For understanding CAA, 2019 it is important to know that when partition took place it created large number of refugee who want to live in independent India and applied for citizenship. Because of all these factors Indian government brought The Citizenship Act, 1955

When we see PART II of The Indian Constitution it talks who can be the citizen of Indian and also give power to the parliament to regulate and make laws on citizenship under Article 11. It also says under Article 10 that who is already the citizen of India there citizenship will not be effected due to Article 11. Now using the power of Article 11 Indian government has amended the act several times and the most resent is on 4th December 2019.

Main motive of CAA is to grant Indian citizenship to illegal migrates of Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Sikh, Parshi, and Christian communities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Now the question is who are illegal migrates?

  • Any foreigner who has entered into India without a valid passport or a travel document, or
  • Any foreigner who has entered India with a valid passport or a travel document but they are staying beyond the permitted period of time.

And through this amendment the Indian government says that any person belonging to above six communities who are from the above three countries will not be considered as illegal migrant if they entered Indian before December 31, 2014. The proposed law also reduced duration of residency from 11 years to 5 years for people belonging to same 6 religion and 3 countries.

Going back in history when partitions took place many people got displaces and died. It was the largest and the most rapid migration in the human history. In 1950 the Prime Minister of India and Pakistan signed the Pact for the safety of minorities in their respective counties and this Pact was known as the “Delhi Pact”. But Pakistan never took care of the minorities in its country. And neither Bangladesh nor Afghanistan. On the other hand Indian government established Indian National Commission for Minorities. Now because of being ill-treated the people form the three countries migrated to India. Therefore this amendment is purely made to ease the Indian citizenship for the refugee of above six communities. As, these three countries are Islamic states, where muslins are in majority. Hence there cannot be treated as upraised minorities.

Conclusion

The money spent on building detention centers can be utilized to build schools, hospitals and other public property necessary for the growth and development of the country. The chief opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act is that it discriminates on the basis of religion by identifying only non-Muslims refugees as those who would be eligible for Indian citizenship. While any foreigner can still apply for Indian citizenship, he/she has to follow the normal process of naturalization – which takes 11 or more years.

The CAA is seen by many people as a quick move to change the demographics and voters-profile in favor of the ruling party by selective admission of illegal migrants. As per the critics, Citizenship (Amendment) Act violates Article 14 of the Indian Constitution – the fundamental right which guarantees equality to all persons. This is a part of the basic structure of the Constitution and hence, cannot be reshaped by any Parliament laws. It is yet to be seen if the Supreme Court allows the selective fast-tracking for Indian Citizenship. The apex court has the power to declare the bill as unconstitutional.

The policy towards illegal migrants and refugees needs wider debates and deliberations. However, religion can never be the basis of Indian Citizenship.

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