Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019

Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019

✍️ The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill has cleared Parliament.

What the bill proposes?

✍️ The Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 passed by Lok Sabha on Monday and Rajya Sabha on 11 Dec 2019 , proposes to accord citizenship to illegal Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jains, Parsis and Christian migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

✍️ It, naturally, implies that migrants, who identify themselves with any group or community other than those mentioned above, from these countries won't be eligible for citizenship.

✍️ The bill also relaxes the provisions for "Citizenship by naturalisation". The proposed law reduces duration of residency from existing 11 years to just five years for people belonging to the same six religions and three countries.

Who all does it cover?

✍️ The Bill covers six communities namely Hindu, Sikh, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christian migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

✍️ As per the Citizenship Act of 1955, an illegal immigrants cannot get citizenship in India.

✍️ An illegal migrant is defined as people who either entered the country without proper documents, or stayed on beyond the permitted time.

✍️ In 2015, the government made changes to the passport and foreigner’s acts to allow non-Muslim refugees from these countries to stay back in India even if they entered the country without valid papers.

Who does it leave out?

✍️ Leading opposition parties say the bill is discriminatory as it singles out Muslims who constitute nearly 15 percent of country's population.

✍️ The government clarifies that Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh are Islamic republics where Muslims are in majority hence they cannot be treated as persecuted minorities.

What is the govt's logic on this?

✍️ Citing partition between India and Pakistan on religious lines in 1947, the NDA government has argued that millions of citizens of undivided India belonging to various faiths were staying in Pakistan and Bangladesh from 1947.

✍️ 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.

✍️ Some of them also have fears about such persecution in their day-to-day life where right to practice, profess and propagate their religion has been obstructed and restricted. Many such persons have fled to India to seek shelter and continued to stay in India even if their travel documents have expired or they have incomplete or no documents.

What is the background of the bill?

✍️ The Bill in its earlier form was passed in January 2019, ahead of the general elections.

✍️ It again sought to grant Indian citizenship to the six non-Muslim communities-Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Parsi, Jain and Sikh.

✍️ It reduced the mandatory requirement of 12 years stay in India to seven years to be eligible for citizenship if they do not possess any document.

✍️ The earlier Bill was referred to Joint parliamentary Committee, however the Bill lapsed as it could not be taken up in Rajya Sabha.

Who are the opposers?

✍️ Among the main opposition against the Bill is that it is said to be violative of Article 14 of the Constitution — the Right to Equality.

✍️ Congress, Trinamool Congress, CPI(M) and a few other political parties have been steadfastly opposing the bill, claiming that citizenship can't be given on the basis of religion.

What are the objections that have come up?

✍️ The Bill has triggered widespread protests in northeastern states where many feel that permanent settlement of illegal immigrants will disturb the region's demography and further burden resources and decrease employment opportunities for indigenous people.

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