The Citizenship Amendment Act,2019

Indian Constitution provides for single citizenship for the whole part of India, as against USA, which provides for dual citizenship. It means in USA one person is citizen of USA and also from the state to which he belongs e.g. California, Texas, Washington etc. In India every citizen has the same rights, privileges, and immunities of citizenship, irrespective of in which state he resides. Hence in India there is no provision for “a citizen of Bihar or New Delhi”, because the component states of India are not independent units [Article 1 of Indian Constitution].

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (Popularly known as CAB), after having passed by both the houses of Parliament and having received the assent of the President on the 12th December, 2019, finally became Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (Now CAA).

Part II Citizenship under Constitution of India covers Article 5 to Article 11, which contains provisions related with “Citizenship”. Under entry 17, List I (Union List), Schedule. 7, gives Parliament the exclusive power to make laws on “citizenship, naturalization and aliens”. Further under the Indian Constitution, international relations and international borders are under the exclusive purview of the Union government. This has resulted in a variety of agencies, both of the Central as well as the State governments, having to deal with refugee matters connected with law enforcement. (1)

Article 11 is the mother of The Citizenship Act, 1955 (Act 57 of 1955) (‘The Principal Act’), which is enacted pursuant to this provision. This Article has given power to Parliament to regulate the right of citizenship by law with respect to the acquisition and termination of citizenship and all other matters relating to citizenship. On and from the date of commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, any proceeding pending against a person under this section in respect of illegal migration or citizenship shall stand abated on conferment of citizenship to him: Provided that such person shall not be disqualified for making application for citizenship under this section on the ground that the proceeding is pending against him and the Central Government or authority specified by it in this behalf shall not reject his application on that ground if he is otherwise found qualified for grant of citizenship under this section: Provided further that the person who makes the application for citizenship under this section shall not be deprived of his rights and privileges to which he was entitled on the date of receipt of his application on the ground of making such application. It shall not be applied to tribal area of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the area covered under “The Inner Line” notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.’

One more term in news these days is The Famous Nehru-Liaquat Pact of 1950 which says each country to ensure that its minorities enjoy complete equality of citizenship with others and receive treatment identical to that available for other nationals of their country. Though in India the rights and security of the minorities have been continuously and effectively safeguarded, Pakistan has persistently contravened the provisions of the Pact through consistent neglect and harassment of the members of the minority community.(3),(4) This is the justification being given by Government for enactment of this act.

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