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Citizenship Amendment Act Implemented, Check Detail Rules

The recent notification of the Citizenship (Amendment) Rules, 2024, has stirred a mixed bag of reactions, with some celebrating the development, while others urge for a halt on the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019, pending a verdict from the Supreme Court. Given the irreversible nature of citizenship – a foundational pillar bestowing the ‘right to have rights’ such as voting – a prudent course of action might be to stay the Act’s implementation. This approach would preserve the status quo until a judicial consensus is reached, ensuring that the constitutional sanctity of citizenship, which is traditionally granted irrespective of religious affiliations, is maintained.

Citizenship Amendment Act

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, represents a significant shift in India’s approach to citizenship, specifically designed to aid migrants from certain minority communities. Enacted on December 12, 2019, and effective from January 10, 2020, the legislation aims to streamline the process of granting citizenship to individuals from Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, or Christian communities who have fled religious persecution from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan and entered India on or before December 31, 2014.

Constitutional and Legislative Framework of Citizenship

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, represents a significant shift in India’s approach to citizenship, specifically designed to aid migrants from certain minority communities. Enacted on December 12, 2019, and effective from January 10, 2020, the legislation aims to streamline the process of granting citizenship to individuals from Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, or Christian communities who have fled religious persecution from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan and entered India on or before December 31, 2014.

Citizenship Amendment Act Background

Citizenship Amendment Act: Before India gained independence, citizenship rights were not established, and they were not ensured during British rule either. The British Citizenship and Aliens Rights Act of 1914, which remained in effect until 1948, governed the pre-independence period. As per the British Nationality Act, Indians were initially categorized as British subjects but lacked citizenship.

The partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 led to a significant migration of people across the new border. This prompted the constituent assembly to restrict citizenship provisions in the constitution and grant the Parliament the authority to define citizenship rights. Consequently, the Citizenship Amendment Act of 1955 was enacted by the Parliament.

History of the Citizenship Amendment Act

The history of Citizenship Act of 1955 has undergone five amendments in subsequent years, specifically in 1986, 1995, 2003, 2005, 2015, and 2019. Through these revisions, the Parliament has refined the foundational principles of citizenship, particularly those related to birthright, making them more specific. In this article, we are provided information on the Citizenship Amendment Act 1995 till now.

Citizenship Amendment Act 1986

The initial Citizenship Act, which granted citizenship to all individuals born in India based on jus soli, and the 1986 alteration to Section 3 were broader in scope than the constitutional provision. The Citizenship Amendment Act necessitated that individuals born in India on or after January 26, 1950, but before July 1, 1987, became Indian citizens.

To qualify for citizenship, an individual must have had at least one parent who was an Indian citizen during their birth and their birth must have occurred between July 1, 1987, and December 4, 2003

Citizenship Amendment Act 1995

The Citizenship Amendment Act 1955 act discusses the procedures for acquiring and determining Indian Citizenship, encompassing matters related to overseas citizenship and the revocation of Indian citizenship.

Acquisition of the Indian Citizenship Amendment Act includes:

  • By Birth
  • By Descent
  • By Registration
  • By Naturalisation
  • Incorporation of a territory
  • Special citizenship regulations for individuals governed by the Assam Accord

Loss of the Indian Citizenship Amendment Act can occur through:

  • Renunciation
  • Termination
  • Deprivation

Citizenship Amendment Act 2003

The Citizenship Amendment Act 2003 introduced stricter criteria to prevent infiltration from Bangladesh. As a result, in addition to their own birth circumstances, children born on or after December 4, 2004, are now required to have either both parents as Indian citizens or one parent who is an Indian citizen and the other not being an illegal immigrant.

These Citizenship Amendment Acts have brought India closer to adopting a limited jus sanguinis (blood relationship) approach. According to this principle, individuals who entered India illegally and resided there for seven years are ineligible to attain Indian citizenship through naturalization or registration

Citizenship Amendment Act 2005

Citizenship Amendment Act 2005: The incorporation of a dual citizenship system was implemented, with the exception of individuals holding citizenship in Pakistan and Bangladesh, as this system was extended to encompass all other nationals.

Citizenship Amendment Act 2015

Citizenship Amendment Act 2015: Facilitation of Citizenship through Registration and Naturalisation: Individuals employed by the Indian government and residing within the country for a period of 12 months may have their citizenship requirements streamlined for up to 30 days. This involves the integration of the Persons of Indian Origin and Overseas Citizens of India programs.
Relinquishment and Revocation of Foreign Citizenship: Provisions exist to withdraw the Overseas Citizenship of India card granted to a spouse of an Indian citizen or an Overseas Citizen of India, if the marriage is annulled or if the spouse enters into another marriage

Citizenship Amendment Act 2019

  • The act sought to amend the Citizenship Amendment Act 1955 to make Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian illegal migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship in India.
  • In other words, it intends to make it easier for non-Muslim immigrants from India’s three Muslim-majority neighbors to become citizens of India.
  • Under the Citizenship Amendment Act of 1955, one of the requirements for citizenship by naturalization is that the applicant must have resided in India during the last 12 months, as well as for 11 of the previous 14 years.
  • The Citizenship Amendment Act relaxes the second requirement from 11 years to 6 years as a specific condition for applicants belonging to these six religions, and the aforementioned three countries.
  • It exempts the members of the six communities from any criminal case under the Foreigners Act, of 1946, and the Passport Act, of 1920 if they entered India before December 31, 2014.

Citizenship Amendment Act- illegal migrants

  • Illegal migrants cannot become Indian citizens by the present laws (Citizenship Amendment Act).
  • Under the CAA, an illegal migrant is a foreigner who:
    (i) enters the country without valid travel documents like a passport and visa, or
    (ii) enters with valid documents, but stays beyond the permitted period.
  • Illegal migrants may be put in jail or deported under the Foreigners Act of 1946 and The Passport (Entry into India) Act of 1920.

Citizenship Amendment Act – Exceptions

  • The Bill provides that illegal migrants who fulfill four conditions will not be treated as illegal migrants under the Citizenship Amendment Act and the conditions are as follows:
  1. They are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, or Christians.
  2. They are from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, or Pakistan.
  3. They entered India on or before December 31, 2014.
  4. They are not in certain tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, or Tripura included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution, or areas under the “Inner Line” permit, i.e., Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland.

Citizenship Amendment Act – Controversy

  • Country of Origin: The Act classifies migrants based on their country of origin to include only Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
  • Other religious minorities ignored: It is unclear why illegal migrants from only six specified religious minorities have been included in the Act.
  • Defiance of purpose: India shares a border with Myanmar, which has had a history of persecution of a religious minority, the Rohingya Muslims.
  • Date of Entry: It is also unclear why there is a differential treatment of migrants based on their date of entry into India, i.e., whether they entered India before or after December 31, 2014.
  • Against the spirit of Secularism: Further, granting Citizenship Amendment Act on the grounds of religion is seen to be against the secular nature of the Constitution which has been recognized as part of the basic structure that cannot be altered by Parliament.

Citizenship Amendment Act Challenges

Citizenship Amendment Act: The challenge rests primarily on the grounds that the law violates Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees that no person shall be denied the right to equality before law or the equal protection of law in the territory of India.

The Supreme Court has developed a two-pronged test to examine a law on the grounds of Article 14.

  1. First, any differentiation between groups of persons must be founded on “intelligible differentia”
  2. Second, that differentia must have a rational nexus to the object sought to be achieved by the Act
  • Simply put, for a law to satisfy the conditions under Article 14, it has to first create a “reasonable class” of subjects that it seeks to govern under the law.
  • Even if the classification is reasonable, any person who falls into that category has to be treated alike.

Citizenship Amendment Act Conclusion

  • The listing of the CAA challenge indicates that the hearing will be fast-tracked.
  • The court will have to ensure that all pleadings and written submissions are filed and served to the opposite party before it is listed for a final hearing.
  • Some petitioners could also seek a referral to a larger Constitution Bench.
  • However, the challenge is to a statute and does not directly involve the interpretation of the Constitution.
  • These issues are also likely to be debated before the court allot time for the final hearing.
  • India is a constitutional democracy with a basic structure that assures a secure and spacious home for all Indians.
  • Being partitioned on religious grounds, India has to undertake a balancing act to protect the religious minorities in its neighbourhood.
  • These minorities are under constant threat of persecution and vandalism.
  • India needs to balance its civilization duties to protect those who are prosecuted in the neighbourhood.

Citizenship Amendment Act UPSC

The CAA is relevant for the UPSC exam because it is a recent development in Indian law that has had a significant impact on the country’s political and social landscape. The Act has been criticized by some for discriminating against Muslims, while others have defended it as a necessary measure to protect religious minorities from persecution.

The CAA is likely to be a topic of discussion in the UPSC exam, particularly in the General Studies II paper, which covers the Constitution of India and related topics. Candidates should be familiar with the provisions of the CAA, as well as the arguments for and against it. Here are some specific ways in which the CAA is relevant for the UPSC exam:

  • The CAA raises important questions about the relationship between religion and citizenship in India.
  • The Act has implications for the country’s secular character.
  • The CAA has sparked a debate about the role of the state in protecting religious minorities.
  • The Act has also had a significant impact on India’s relations with its neighboring countries.
  • Candidates who are preparing for the UPSC exam should be familiar with the CAA and its implications for India. The Act is a complex and controversial issue, but it is likely to be tested in the exam.

Constitutional and Humanitarian Concerns

Legal challenges against the CAA underscore potential violations of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, which ensures equality before the law. Critics argue the Act discriminates by selectively granting citizenship based on religion and excluding certain persecuted communities, particularly Muslims and groups from nations beyond Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. This selective approach has sparked debates about the Act’s alignment with India’s secular principles and international human rights obligations.

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FAQs

What does CAA stands for?

CAA stands for Citizenship Amendment Act.

Who are illegal migrants?

Under the CAA, an illegal migrant is a foreigner who: (i) enters the country without valid travel documents like a passport and visa, or (ii) enters with valid documents, but stays beyond the permitted time period.

What are the exceptions in CAA?

• The Bill provides that illegal migrants who fulfil four conditions will not be treated as illegal migrants under the Act. The conditions are:
1. They are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis or Christians.
2. They are from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan.
3. They entered India on or before December 31, 2014.

How many citizenship amendment acts are there?

Six amendments were made to the Citizenship Act of 1955. six acts includes, Citizenship Act of 1955, 1986, 2003, 2005, 2015, 2019

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