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The Citizenship Amendment Bill : The Analysis.


The citizenship amendment bill or CAB, which grants Indian citizenship to the non-Muslim of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, was passed by the lower house on 11th December 2019. 


This citizenship amendment bill gets president's assent it becomes an Act now. As many as 124 lawmakers voted in the favor of the Citizenship Amendment Bill and 99 against it.


CAB


Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 and 2019- An analysis

The Citizenship Amendment Bill passed in Lok Sabah in January 2019; the bill sought to amends the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship.

Note – The citizenship Act, 1955 prohibits illegal migrants from acquiring Indian citizenship

The bill provided that registration of overseas citizens of India (OCI) cardholders may be canceled if they violate any law. 

It also seeks to reduce the minimum years of residency in India to apply citizenship to be lessened from 12 years to 7 years for such migrants.

The bill will apply to all states and union territories of the country.



What citizenship Act 1955 says?

According to the Citizenship Act (1955), there are categories of – citizens and aliens. Citizens are the people of India, and aliens from a different land. 

However recently there have been various controversies related to illegal migrants, who are not treated as a citizen of India. 

In some states which share a border with other countries have seen a huge influx of migrants, and no denying that there was a regional protest against these migrants in – Assam and Tripura State.

While these migrants and refugees were about to send back, there were issues related to their human rights.

CAB-Protest


Who is considered as an illegal migrant?

 An illegal immigrant is defined as a person who enters India without a valid passport or stays in the country after the expiry of the visa permit. It also includes the immigrant, who uses fake documents in the process.

                                           

Earlier Citizenship Act Amendments and NRC in Assam and Tripura

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a list that contains names of Indian citizens of Assam and later in Tripura, the matter arrived in concern.

 It was last prepared after Census in 1951. Assam, which had faced an influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC.

The Assam government on July 30, 2018, released the second and final draft of the state’s National Register of Citizens (NRC). 

The draft included the names of Indian citizens who have been residing in Assam before March 25, 1971.


The Citizenship Amendment Bill was proposed in Lok Sabha on July 19, amending the Citizenship Act of 1955. 

The Bill is passed in Parliament, and now illegal migrants from certain minority communities coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan will then be eligible for Indian citizenship.

In short, illegal migrants belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, and Jain, Paris or Christian religious communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan would not be imprisoned or deported.  

Moreover, these citizens gain permanent citizenship after six years of residency in India instead of 11 years — as mentioned in the Citizenship Act (1955).



The registration of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders may get canceled if they violate any law.

Citizenship is granted to an individual by the government of the country when he/she complies with the legal formalities, so it’s like a judicial concept.

In India, the Citizenship Act, 1995 prescribes five ways of acquiring citizenship:


1.      Birth.

2.     Descent.

3.     Registration.

4.     Naturalization.

5.     Incorporation of the territory.


CAB-Protest



What are the Constitutional Provisions?

The Indian Constitution contains neither any permanent nor any elaborate provisions in this regard. It only identifies the persons who became citizens of India at its commencement (i.e., on January 26, 1950).

It does not deal with the problem of acquisition or loss of citizenship subsequent to its commencement.

It empowers the Parliament to enact a law to provide for such matters and any other matter relating to citizenship.

According to the Constitution, the following four categories of persons became the citizens of India at its commencement i.e., on 26 January 1950:



Condition to be a citizen of India- Earlier 

A person who had his domicile in India and also fulfilled any one of the three conditions, viz. 

To sum up, these provisions deal with the citizenship of

 (a) Persons domiciled in India; 

(b) Persons migrated from Pakistan; 

(c) Persons migrated to Pakistan but later returned; and 

(d) Persons of Indian origin residing outside India



CAB-Protest


What are the issues and challenges?

The Bill seemed to be violating the Right to Equality, (Article 14) which seeks to grants citizenship to illegal migrants on the basis of religion.

It failed the test of reason-ability which is contained in Article 14. This is because it does not provide any appropriate reasons for limiting the eligibility of citizenship to 6 minorities of only 3 countries.

For example – Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, Ahmadiyya and Shia Muslims from Pakistan and Uyghur Muslims from China who face religious prosecution have been overlooked.

Fails on international refugee law

United Nations’ refugee convention 1951, granting refuge based on humanitarian considerations is arguably a norm of customary international law. Though India is not a signatory of the convention. 

The bill considered persecuted minorities as migrants whereas word migration refers to the voluntary movement of people, primarily for better economic prospects. Contrarily, the refuge is an involuntary Act of forced movement.

The bill particularly violates clause 1 of the United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples which states that indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture.


CAB-Protest

Which states will be affected?

The Bill would have impacted all 7 North-Eastern states. However, after several rounds of discussion, the Centre has agreed to provide safeguards for NE States. 


It says, “Nothing in this section shall apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the area covered under the ‘Inner Line Permit’ notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.”

 These areas require Indians from other states to get ‘Inner Line Permit’ to enter or pass through them. Presently, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland fall under the Inner Line Permit.

There were concerns that Manipur could end up suffering the most if the Citizen Amendment Bill is implemented.



How many will it add to India's population?
 

There are no official figures other than records furnished by the Intelligence Bureau before the JPC saying there are 31,313 persons belonging to these minority communities living in India on Long Term Visa. They had sought refuge here on grounds of religious persecution.

CAB-Protest
As per the IB records the numbers are - Hindus 25,447, Sikhs 5,807, Christians 55, Buddhists 2 and Parsis 2.



What are the objections that have come up?

The Bill has triggered widespread protests in north-eastern states where many feel that permanent settlement of illegal immigrants will disturb the region's demography and further burden resources and decrease employment opportunities for indigenous people. 


A large section of people and organizations opposing the Bill also say it will nullify the provisions of the Assam Accord of 1985, which fixed March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date .for deportation of illegal immigrants irrespective of religion.



Who are the opposes?

Among the main opposition against the Bill is that it is said to be volatile of Article 14 of the Constitution — the Right to Equality. Congress, Trinamool Congress, CPI (M) and a few other political parties have been steadfastly opposing the bill, claiming that citizenship can't be given on the basis of religion. 


There have also been widespread protests across North East in Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim.


Do states have no powers to refuse implementation of the Citizenship Act?

State governments have no powers to reject the implementation of the Citizen Amendment Act, 2019 as the legislation was enacted under the Union List of the 7th schedule of the constitution.
The statement came after chief ministers of West Bengal, Punjab, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh announced that the law is “unconstitutional” and has no place in their respective states.

The state has no powers to deny implementation of a central law which is in the Union List, according to the home ministry officials.
There are 97 items which are under the Union List of the 7th schedule that includes defense, external affairs, railways, citizenship, and naturalization, among others.

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