Today Home Minister Amit Shah has tabled the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Rajya Sabha for its final passage. After a successful passage in Lok Sabha, the Bill has provoked widespread protests across the Northeast and several parts of India. Now it will witness a crucial test in Rajya Sabha.
However, it seems like Amit Shah will have a smooth sail in Rajya Sabha as well as the numbers stack up in favor of NDA. The Bill has faced violent protests in Northeast, with student organizations in Assam observing a bandh on Tuesday. Moreover, opposition parties, academics, and authors demanded an immediate withdrawal of the Bill saying it will divide the nation into two.
What is citizenship (Amendment), Bill?
The citizen amendment bill seeks to provide Indian nationality to six communities- Hindus, Christian, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains, and Buddhists fleeing hostility from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. The recent bill amends the citizenship act, 1955 to make illegal migrants in the select categories eligible for citizenship.
What does the opposition say?
The opposition parties attacked the legislation as it leaves out Muslims and believes it is at odds with the Constitution, which does not differentiate between citizens on the basis of their faith.
Here are some tweets of opposition leaders opposing Citizen (Amendment) Bill 2019:
Here is a pro CAB tweet from the BJP leader Rajyavardhan Rathore
Why are some Northeast states opposing the Bill?
The northeast states oppose the CAB owing to the fear that granting citizenship to foreign refugees will undermine the ethnic communities living in these regions. However, the government had formulated the provision of citizenship not leading to residency status in the smaller north-east states.
Here is a comparison between Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 and Citizen Amendment Bill 2019
|The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (as passed by Lok Sabha)||Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019|
|Eligibility for citizenship for certain illegal migrants: The Act prohibits illegal migrants from acquiring Indian citizenship. Illegal migrants are foreigners who enter India without a valid passport or travel document or stay beyond the permitted time. |
The Bill amended the Act to provide that Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan will not be treated as illegal migrants. In order to get this benefit, they must have also been exempted from the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 by the central government. The 1920 Act mandates foreigners to carry a passport, while the1946 Act regulates the entry and departure of foreigners in India.
The Bill further stated from the date of its enactment, all legal proceedings pending against such an illegal migrant will be closed.
|The Bill adds two additional provisions on citizenship to illegal migrants belonging to these religions from the three countries. |
Consequences of acquiring citizenship: The Bill says that on acquiring citizenship: (i) such persons shall be deemed to be citizens of India from the date of their entry into India, and (ii) all legal proceedings against them in respect of their illegal migration or citizenship will be closed.
Exception: Further, the Bill adds that the provisions on citizenship for illegal migrants will not apply to the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, or Tripura, as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution. These tribal areas include Karbi Anglong (in Assam), Garo Hills (in Meghalaya), Chakma District (in Mizoram), and Tripura Tribal Areas District. It will also not apply to the areas under the Inner Line” under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873. The Inner Line Permit regulates visit of Indians to Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland.
|Citizenship by naturalization: The Act allows a person to apply for citizenship by naturalization if the person meets certain qualifications. One of the qualifications is that the person must have resided in India or been in central government service for the last 12 months and at least 11 years of the preceding 14 years. The Bill created an exception for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, with regard to this qualification. For these groups of persons, the 11 years’ requirement will be reduced to six years.||The Bill further reduces the period of naturalization for such a group of persons from six years to five years.|
|Grounds for canceling OCI registration: |
The Act provides that the central government may cancel registration of OCIs on five grounds including registration through fraud, showing disaffection to the Constitution, engaging with the enemy during war, necessity in the interest of sovereignty of India, security of state or public interest, or if within five years of registration the OCI has been sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more. The Bill added one more ground for canceling the registration, that is if the OCI has violated any law that is in force in the country.
When the Bill was passed in Lok Sabha, this was amended to limit the disqualification to violations of the Citizenship Act or of any other law so notified by the central government. Also, the cardholder has to be given an opportunity to be heard.
|Same as the 2016 Bill passed by Lok Sabha.|