Amidst the chaos underway in the North East regions of India the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, CAB was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. It now awaits the assent of the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (CAB) is a bill amending the Citizenship Act of 1955 to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, (who entered India on or before 31 December 2014), eligible for Indian citizenship. It also seeks to relax the requirement of residence in India for citizenship by naturalisation from 11 years to 5 years for these migrants.
No matter what the parties say, the immediate beneficiaries of the Bill, according to ‘IB records’, will be just over 30,000 people.
What is Citizenship Act of 1955?
According to extracts from Indian Citizenship Act, 1955, Indian citizenship could be acquired by birth, descent, registration and naturalization.
Article 9 of Indian Constitution says that a person who voluntarily acquires citizenship of any other country is no longer an Indian citizen.
According to the Citizenship Act if 1955, acquiring citizenship by naturalisation (Section 6) stated, Citizenship of India by naturalization can be acquired by a foreigner (not illegal migrant) who is ordinarily resident in India for ‘Twelve years’ (throughout the period of twelve months immediately preceding the date of application and for ‘Eleven years’ in the aggregate in the ‘Fourteen years’ preceding the twelve months and other qualifications as specified in Third Schedule to the Act.
According to CAB, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan are eligible to receive Indian citizenship on the basis of the religion they follow, however any other religion excluding the above are not eligible for the same.
It is interesting to note here that, CAB will not apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura as included in Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
Home Minister Amit Shah sought to assuage the concerns of Indian Muslims by saying they have nothing to fear as they are and will remain citizens of India. The home minister also said that minorities in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh are not treated equally and their population has declined by 20 per cent as ‘they were either killed, or forced to convert or migrated to India’.
Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma too, sought to allay fears on the Bill passed by Parliament, saying it won’t have an adverse effect on the state and asserted that implementation of Clause 6 of Assam Accord will usher a new hope of political stability.
After receiving the assent from the President, when the Bill becomes the Law, only then will the time tell whether or not the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 can be a good example to set before the world or not.
Even after protests from the opposition parties, the Bill received a majority votes in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. However, the stand of the political party Shiv Sena is still not clear on the same