A brief on Citizenship Amendment Act
“I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth.”
Swami Vivekananda (Chicago,1893)
The Citizenship Amendment Bill is a bill which tries to modify the Citizenship Act of 1955. It awards citizenship to refuge searchers sticking to six referenced sects: Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists Christians, Jains and Parsis from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who entered India on or before the mentioned cut-off date 31st December, 2014. The bill looks to loosen up the necessity of the living arrangement in India for citizenship naturalization from 11 years to 5 years for these migrants.
There is a serious gigantic hullabaloo in parts of India over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), with robust views expressed by way of a few that, this regulation destroys the soul of the Indian Constitution and the very concept of India. But these arguments are primarily based on short-sighted ends.
The political talk around the issue of flood of unlawful immigrants in the North-East and changing citizenship laws began route back during the 2014 general elections. Cashing on the Hindu sentiment, BJP had vowed to allow citizenship to Hindu refugees from the neighbouring nations. The Union Cabinet cleared the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on 4th December 2019 for its presentation in the Parliament. The bill was presented in 17th Lok Sabha by the minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah on 9th December, 2019 and was passed on 10th December 2019, with 311 MPs casting a ballot in favour and 80 against the bill.
The Major Crucial Point on why Citizenship Amendment Bill was Introduced?
In the declaration of objects and reasons, the bill says, The Constitutions of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh provide for a particular state sect. As a result, many individuals belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian groups have confronted persecution on grounds of religion in the ones international locations i.e. the countries in which they use to reside facing persecution.
This means the Citizenship Amendment Bill prepares the floor that the worry of religious persecution exists simplest for folks who do not profess a faith as followed with the aid of the nations as their state religion. In this situation, all three countries declare Islam as their state religion. This statement forms the premise of intelligible differentia for non-Muslim immigrants and creates the lawful and constitutional foundation for leaving out Muslim immigrants who entered India or stayed in India without valid documents.
Constitutionality of The New Citizenship Legislation
Protests have broken out throughout India, a few of them violent, towards the Citizenship (amendment) Act, 2019. The act seeks to amend the definition of unlawful immigrant for Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Buddhist and Christian immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who have lived in India without documentation. They will be granted speedy tune Indian Citizenship.
At the primary listening to on petitions challenging the CAA, the Supreme Court declined to stay the contentious law but asked the Centre to report its respond towards the petitions that announces it violates the Constitution. The petitioners say the bill discriminates in opposition to Muslims and violates the right to equality enshrined within the Constitution.
No violation of equality
Equality, which is assured by way of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, doesn’t imply that the situation of every person is identical. If that were so, there might have been no unique rights for the tribals, Dalits and the religious minorities.
Apart from that, the provisions in the bill furnished the standards of reasonable classification that permits the formation of a set. Here the sect fashioned is of six religious minorities- Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism- in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh- the three constitutionally declared Islamic countries- facing religious persecution. These six religious minorities are regularly persecuted and are the very least or nearly now not represented inside the power centres of these nations.
Also, the CAA doesn’t dispose of any rights of Indian muslims. Importantly, Article 11 of Indian Constitution mandates Parliament to modify the right of citizenship.
Presenting the Citizenship Amendment Bill, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the bill satisfies all conditions stated in Article 14 and does not violate any provision of the Constitution. The bedrock of this argument, and as a result self-assurance of Amit Shah, lies within the announcement of objects and motives of the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
Who is an illegal Immigrant?
An unlawful immigrant is defined as people who either entered the nation without proper documents, or stayed on past the accepted time. In 2015 the government made changes to the passport and foreigner’s acts to allow non-muslim refugees from these countries to live back in India even if they entered the country without legitimate papers.
Why no Ahmadis, Shiites, Hazaras or Balochs?
True, there were persecutions of Shiites, Amadis, Hazaras or Balochs in these three countries, specifically in Pakistan, in which Ahmadis are not even identified by that country’s Islamic Constitution as Muslims. But those persecutions are particularly for ethnic or political reasons, not necessarily religious- the purview of the CAA. Whether Pakistan acknowledges them or now not, India regards Ahmadis as Muslims. Importantly, both Shiites and Ahmadis, similar to the dominant Sunnis, regard Allah as the best genuine God and the Koran as their important authoritative textual content. It isn’t always upto India to intervene within the sharp sectarian divisions present within the Islamic world.
Why exclude other neighbouring countries?
Many critics of the CAA are concerned about the exclusion of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims, masses of whom are currently in refugee camps in Bangladesh. The Rohingya are an ethnic network who’re taken into consideration via Myanmar to be Bangladeshi immigrants. Bangladesh’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, herself regards the Rohingya refugees as a risk to her nation and the region.
There had been a couple of opinions via intelligence organizations of exploitation of Rohingya extremism with the useful resource of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence. In 2017, a brutal massacre of 99 people of the Hindu Rohingya minority in Rakhine become achieved with the resource of radical Rohingya Muslim businesses, as stated by means of the British Broadcasting Corporation. Also, there have been opinions of forced conversions of Hindu Rohingya within the Bangladesh refugee camps.
One mustn’t forget that India has the right to be certain about the protection of its own people. It appears that apart from safety threats, India doesn’t want to be caught within the center of the arguments between Myanmar and Bangladesh over the Rohingya’s origin. That’s why even Rohingya Hindus who themselves are trapped amongst Muslim extremists and the Myanmar army also are not included inside the CAA.
Persecution of Sri Lankan Tamils, both Hindus and Muslims, is also for ethnic and political reasons – elements now not addressed through manner of the CAA, which specializes in religious persecution. Plus, the separatist warfare answerable for this ended lengthy ago. However, there had been agreements in the past amongst a few of the governments of Sri Lanka and India for repatriations of Tamils to Sri Lanka. India had additionally conferred citizenship to masses of them.
Understanding protests in Northeast India
As concerning the protests which happened in Assam, Tripura, Sikkim and Shillong, Meghalaya, are worried, their call for is to preserve their areas out of the ambit of the CAA – to maintain their personal lifestyle, language and literature.
In specific, it was Assam that attracted masses interest. It isn’t that the Assamese network is ignorant of the non-secular persecutions of erstwhile East Pakistan, cutting-edge Bangladesh. Already, inside the Assam Accord of 1985, Assamese groups agreed to accept Hindu Bengali refugees who came to Assam until March 25, 1971 – which is also the lessen-off date of the Assam National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Importantly, the NRC that is abhorred through a few Indian intellectuals has sturdy aid a number of the people of different north-eastern states too, as they worry repetition of the destiny of Tripura, which until the early Fifties changed into a tribal-majority country however became a Bengali majority after an influx of Bangladeshis. So the crucial authorities must bear in mind exempting the whole northeast vicinity from the CAA, which anyways already excludes a big part of the region.
What is National Register of Citizens?
The NRC is a registry maintained with the aid of the Government of India containing names and relevant data for identity of Indian residents of the Assam state. The sign up was made explicitly for Assam. However, on 20th November 2019, Home Minister Amit Shah declared during a parliamentary consultation that the registry would be extended to the whole of India.
The preliminary workout of NRC changed into a roster for all individuals who settled in Assam upto midnight of 24th March 1971, the first draft of which became published in 2018. To be eligible for citizenship of India, the humans of Assam needed to prove that their ancestry was in India on or before 24th March 1971, the eve of Bangladesh war. While the NRC was aimed toward deportation of unlawful immigrants regardless of their faith, a chunk of Northeast populace believes that the CAB is likely to advantage the non-muslim immigrants. The NRC changed into updated on 31st August this year via a big workout monitored with the aid of the Supreme Court of India, and it observed that 1.9 million of 329 million, who had implemented for inclusion of their names in NRC, were now not eligible for the citizenship.
The Citizenship Amendment Act is carefully associated with every other pet assignment of the BJP Government- the updating of the NRC. The check in goals to perceive authentic Indian residents so the government can come across and cope with unlawful immigrants.
The theory of CAA –NRC combination
Let’s be clear that the NRC is the geared up detection of unlawful immigrants, folks that entered India illegally for economic motives, at the same time as the CAA presents citizenship to positive refugees who came to India on or in advance than December 31, 2014. Saying that the NRC is a device to throw out Muslim immigrants and not Hindu immigrants, who are now stored with the aid of the CAA – is not exactly right, because the citizenship won’t be granted automatically. People need to fulfil the standards of staying for a non-stop six years, and moreover the Hindus who came after 2014 won’t be eligible for that safety net. Significantly, the NRC is primarily based on the two acts – the Foreigners Act of 1946 and the Passport (Entry into India) Act of 1920 – which are mandated to come upon, detain and deport any unlawful foreigner.
Lastly, one need not forget the distinction among unlawful immigrants and religiously persecuted refugees, people who were pressured to depart their homelands only for practicing their very own religion. The essential cause of the CAA is to provide a lawful identity to these sick-fated nationless humans. Denial of citizenship to these refugees who have lived in India for years is to rub salt to their deep wounds. So, if not today– then when?
Author Details: Krittika Sagar Sharma (Amity Law School, Noida)