Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (Major Provisions) – UPSC GS2

Major Provisions:
  • Citizenship on the basis of religion:
    • The Bill amends the Act to provide that the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who entered India on or before 31st December, 2014, will not be treated as illegal migrants.
  • Non – Muslim Communities Excluded:
    • Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian. This implies that migrants, who identify themselves with any group or community other than those mentioned here, from the above mentioned countries won’t be eligible for citizenship.
  • Exceptions:
    • The provisions on citizenship for illegal migrants will not apply to two categories – states protected by the ‘Inner Line’, and areas covered under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
      • Inner Line Permit (ILP): This is a special permit that citizens from other parts of India require to enter a state protected by the ILP regime. Without an ILP granted by the state government, an Indian from another state cannot visit a state that is under the ILP regime.
      • Sixth Schedule: The Sixth Schedule relates to special provisions in administration of certain Northeastern states (Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Tripura). It provides special powers for Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) in these states.
  • Citizenship by Naturalization:
    • Under The Citizenship Act, 1955, one of the requirements for citizenship by naturalisation 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 amendment relaxes the second requirement from 11 years to 5 years as a specific condition for applicants belonging to the specified six religions, and the above-mentioned three countries.
  • Cancellation of registration of OCIs:
    • The Act provides that the central government may cancel the registration of Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs) on certain grounds which are:
      • If the OCI has registered through fraud.
      • If, within five years of registration, the OCI has been sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more.
      • If it becomes necessary in the interest of sovereignty and security of India.
      • If the OCI has violated the provisions of the Act or of any other law as notified by the central government.
    • However the orders for cancellation of OCI should not be passed till the OCI cardholder is given an opportunity to be heard.
Why is it being opposed?
  • It seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim minorities from Muslim majority countries, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
  • According to activists, this would mean, for instance, that the sizeable population of Hindu migrants from Bangladesh living in Assam would become citizens while Muslims who migrated to Assam from East Bengal a century ago would continue to be harassed as ‘illegal migrants from Bangladesh. Some term this move as “communally motivated humanitarianism.”
  • It violates Article 14 of the constitution. Since Article 14 of the Constitution guarantees equality to all persons, citizens and foreigners, differentiating between people on the grounds of religion would be in violation of the constitution.
  • According to the Assam Accord of 1985, illegal migrants who had entered Assam from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971, were to be detected and deported. But, the new Bill contradicts the terms of the Accord
Who is an illegal migrant?
The 1955 Act defines an illegal migrant as a foreigner who enters India without a valid passport or travel documents or stays beyond the permitted time.
How does the law treat them?
Illegal migrants may be imprisoned or deported. They and their children are ineligible for Indian citizenship under the Citizenship Act of 1955.
Legal fallacies of the law:
  • The law violates India’s long-standing refugee policy. Although India does not have a codified refugee policy, the basic tenants of the scheme were listed by Jawaharlal Nehru during the Tibetan refugee crisis. One of the primary conditions given then was that refugees would have to return to their homeland once normalcy prevailed. The law not only provides citizenship rights to such refugees, but greatly relaxes the procedure to avail of them.
  • From reducing the registration fees to Rs 100 from Rs 3000 to delegating the authority from the Union government to district magistrate for speedy processing of applications, the law serves citizenship to illegal immigrants on a platter.
  • The Bill provides wide discretion to the government to cancel OCI registrations for both major offences like murder, as well as minor offences like parking in a no-parking zone or jumping a red light.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top