Understanding the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)

CAA 2024

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Understanding the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA): With the anticipation of the General Elections in 2024 looming, the Centre has recently notified the regulations for implementing the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) 2019. This legislation, spearheaded by the Modi government, seeks to provide citizenship to undocumented non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.

Implementation Rules

The Modi-led government has taken steps to implement the CAA, which paves the way for granting citizenship to undocumented non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.

Eligibility Criteria

Under the CAA regulations, Indian nationality will now be extended to persecuted non-Muslim migrants from the aforementioned countries. These migrants must have arrived in India before December 31, 2014.

Beneficiaries

The eligible migrants who will benefit from this act include individuals belonging to religious minorities such as Christians, Parsis, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, and Hindus.

Understanding the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is designed to provide protection to individuals who have fled to India due to religious persecution, shielding them from illegal migration proceedings. To qualify for citizenship under this act, applicants must have arrived in India on or before December 31, 2014. Presently, Indian citizenship is granted to those born in the country or who have resided there for at least 11 years. Additionally, the proposed amendment includes a provision for revoking Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) registration if the OCI cardholder violates any stipulation of the Citizenship Act or other relevant laws.

Exclusion under the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)

Since 2019, there has been contention with leading opposition parties regarding the discriminatory nature of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), particularly towards Muslims, constituting approximately 15% of India’s population. The government’s rationale is that as Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh are Islamic republics with Muslim majorities, Muslims from these countries cannot be deemed persecuted minorities. However, the government assures that applications from other communities will undergo individual review.

Application Process for Citizenship

Online Application

The Ministry of Home Affairs has developed a dedicated portal for the convenience of migrants to apply for citizenship. Through this online platform, applicants are required to disclose the year of their entry into India without proper documentation.

Document Requirement

Interestingly, applicants will not be required to submit any documents during the application process.

Reasons for Opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)

Controversial Legislation

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), enacted in December 2019, has triggered widespread opposition and protests nationwide. Numerous opposition parties have condemned the law, labeling it as “discriminatory.”

Congress Party Criticism

The Congress party has voiced apprehensions regarding the timing of the enactment, suggesting that the notification of the rule is aimed at polarizing the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal and Assam.

Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh has alleged that the government is attempting to shift focus following recent remarks by the Supreme Court regarding the electoral bonds issue. He asserted that the timing of the rule notification, after nine extensions, just before the elections, appears to be a deliberate effort to polarize the electoral landscape, particularly in West Bengal and Assam.

Kerala’s Stance on CAA

Chief Minister Vijayan of Kerala has stated that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) will not be enforced in the state, criticizing it as a legislation that exacerbates communal tensions.

The demonstrations opposing the CAA, coupled with police intervention, led to the loss of over 100 lives in Kerala.

Timing of Rule Notification for CAA

Procedural Delay

As mentioned earlier, the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed nearly four years ago. According to the guidelines specified in the manual of parliamentary procedures, regulations for any legislation should have been drafted within six months of receiving presidential assent or requested extensions from the Committees on Subordinate Legislation in both houses of Parliament.

Ongoing Extensions

Since 2020, the Ministry of Home Affairs has consistently sought extensions from parliamentary committees to formulate the regulations for the CAA.

During December 2023, Union Home Minister Amit Shah underscored that hindering the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is not feasible as it stands as a law of the land. Additionally, he reiterated the BJP’s commitment to executing the CAA.

The timing of the notification should also be considered in light of the impending announcement of the Lok Sabha polls, which are expected to be declared within a couple of days. Following this, the Model Code of Conduct may be enforced.

Potential Applicants for Citizenship under New Regulations

Although no specific estimate has been disclosed, the annual report of the Ministry of Home Affairs for 2021-22 highlights that between April 1, 2021, and December 31, 2021, a total of 1,414 individuals from non-Muslim minority communities in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan acquired Indian citizenship through registration or naturalization under the Citizenship Act, 1955.

The Citizenship Act of 1955 enables the attainment of Indian citizenship through registration or naturalization.

This provision applies specifically to non-Muslim minorities originating from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.

The opportunity for citizenship through registration or naturalization extends to individuals residing in nine states.

These states include Chhattisgarh , Uttar Pradesh,  Gujarat, Delhi , Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, and Madhya Pradesh.

Conclusion

 The Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) has sparked widespread debate and opposition since its inception, with concerns raised regarding its potential to foster communal division. Despite these controversies, the Modi-led government remains committed to implementing the CAA, emphasizing its significance as a law of the land.

Frequently asked questions

What is the purpose of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA)?

The CAA aims to grant citizenship to undocumented non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan who entered India before December 31, 2014, due to persecution.

Which communities are eligible for citizenship under the CAA?

The eligible migrants include individuals belonging to religious minorities such as Christians, Parsis, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, and Hindus.

How can migrants apply for citizenship under the CAA?

The Ministry of Home Affairs has developed an online portal for migrants to apply for citizenship. Surprisingly, applicants are not required to submit any documents during the application process.

Why has the CAA faced opposition?

The CAA has been criticized for being discriminatory, particularly towards Muslims. There are concerns that it could exacerbate communal tensions and polarize the political landscape, especially in states like West Bengal and Assam.

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