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CITIZENSHIP AMEMDMENT ACT OF 2019 OVERVIEW

CITIZENSHIP IN INDIA 

Citizenship is the identity which any country provides to the individuals living therein. It  provides variety of rights accompanied with duties which the citizen is obliged to follow.  Every country has its criteria and laws for granting citizenship and similarly India has. The  Citizenship Act, 1955 was enacted providing for the acquisition, determination and  termination of citizenship subsequent to the commencement of the Constitution. The Act  underwent amendment in the year 2004 amending the modes of acquiring India citizenship.  The Citizenship Act, 1955 also defined illegal immigrant under Section 2(b) as: 

1. Any foreigner who comes from any foreign country in India without travel documents 2. Staying beyond the specified time1 

Articles 5 to 10 of the Constitution of India govern citizenship under the Constitution. Article  11 empowers Parliament to enact law to regulate the right of citizenship. 

CITIZENSHIP AMMENDMENT ACT, 2019 

The Citizenship Amendment Bill was first passed on January 8, 2019, by the Lok Sabha  which lapsed with the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha. This Bill was again introduced again  on 9 December 2019 by the Minister of Home Minister Mr. Amit Shah in the 17th Lok Sabha. It was later passed on 10 December 2019. The Rajya Sabha also passed the bill on 11th  December. And later received the assent of President of India and became Citizenship  Amendment Act. 

CAA inserted a proviso in the section 2 (1) of the Act which makes it easier for Hindus,  Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians facing religious persecution in Pakistan,  Bangladesh and Afghanistan, to seek Indian citizenship. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act  granted citizenship to the Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhist, Jains and Parsis who have  arrived from the three nation’s namely-Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh in India on or  before 31 December 2014.  

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Citizenship (Amendment), 2003 (Act No. 6 of 2004) 

As per the 1955 law, a person must have resided in India (or been in the service of the Central  Government) for at least 11 years in order to be eligible for Indian citizenship. The amended  reduced the period to five years for all migrants from these three countries belonging to these  six religious communities. 

However the word “persecution” which was claimed by the government found its mention is  in the Statement of Objects and Reasons delivered by the Home Minister. The act doesn’t  have mention of the word “persecution. While justifying the Bill in Clause 2 of the Statement,  he said. “The constitutions of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh provide for a specific  state religion. As a result, many persons belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and  Christian communities have faced persecution on grounds of religion in those countries.” 

In Pakistan a man was married to women for about 2.5 years. One day some people came to  his house took his wife and got married to her some person. The man couldn’t do anything as  he was married as per Hindu laws. And in Pakistan, marriage as per Hindu law is not  considered to be valid. Women face discrimination there they are thrashed, beaten. Young  girls are abducted, forcibly converted into Islam at tender age. They live a torturous and  discriminatory life there and it has been considerably seen that the people from these  religious communities have migrated in India for shelter from the three named countries. 

ESSENTIALS FOR AQUIRING CITIZENSHIP

The cut-off date for citizenship which is fixed was December 31, 2014, which means that  the applicant should have entered India on or before that date. The Act says that on acquiring  citizenship:  

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1. Such persons shall be deemed to be citizens of India from the date of their entry into India,  and  

2. All legal proceedings against them in respect of their illegal migration or citizenship will  be closed. 2 

The Act also made exclusions of certain class of persons. It does not apply to tribal areas of  Tripura, Mizoram, Assam and Meghalaya because of being included in the Sixth Schedule of  the Constitution. Also those areas that fall under the Inner Limit notified under the Bengal  Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, are considered to be outside consideration of the Act.  

2Section 2(1) b proviso Citizenship (Amendment), 2019 

Edited by Megha Jain

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