Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill

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Citizenship amendment bill
Image source: thecriticalscript.com

The Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019, which seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 on Jan 8, 2019.

Speaking on the bill, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said it will pave way for the six religious minorities. Thus the Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis to get Indian citizenship.

Summary

• Amendment Bill 2019, seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make illegal migrants eligible for citizenship.
• Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019, seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
• Therefore, the amendment will provide relief to persecuted migrants who have come through the western borders of the country to States like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and other States.

What is the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016?

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was introduced in Lok Sabha on July 19, 2016 to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955.

It seeks to make illegal migrants belonging to the same six religions and three countries eligible for citizenship.

 Main provisions of the bill:

  1. The Bill amends the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make illegal migrants from communities such as Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who entered India before December 31, eligible for Indian citizenship.
  2. Under the Act, one of the requirements for citizenship by naturalization is that the applicant must have resided in India during the last 12 months, and for 11 of the previous 14 years.
  3. Bill provides that the registration of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders may be canceled if they violate any law.

Details of the citizenship amendment bill

• The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will apply to all states and union territories of the country.
• Because of the bill, beneficiaries of the Citizenship Amendment Bill can reside in any state of the country.
• Under the 1955 Act, one of the requirements for citizenship by adjustment is that the applicant must have resided in India during the last 12 months, and for 11 of the previous 14 years.
• As per the proposed amendment, the persecuted migrants will be eligible to apply for citizenship. After due scrutiny and recommendation of district authorities and the State Government.
• All things considered, the Bill relaxes this 11-year requirement to six years for persons belonging to the same six religions and three countries. 

Why is the bill being opposed?

This may violate Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees the right to equality.

Citizenship Amendment Bill makes illegal migrants eligible for citizenship on the basis of religion.

Hence, it provides citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

However, it excludes Muslim sects like Shias and Ahmediyas, who face persecution in Pakistan.