Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016


Ajit Kumar AJIT KUMARWISDOM IAS, New Delhi.


Highlights


- The Bill amends the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship.

- Under the Act, one of the requirements for citizenship by naturalisation is that the applicant must have resided in India during the last 12 months, and for 11 of the previous 14 years.  The Bill relaxes this 11 year requirement to six years for persons belonging to the same six religions and three countries.

- The Bill provides that the registration of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders may be cancelled if they violate any law.


Key Issues

The Bill makes illegal migrants eligible for citizenship on the basis of religion. This may violate Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees right to equality. The Bill allows cancellation of OCI registration for violation of any law. This is a wide ground that may cover a range of violations, including minor offences (eg. parking in a no parking zone).

Effectively, people from all communities except Islam will be Indian citizen after six years of staying in India even if they have no passport or other paperwork.

The Bill, when passed, would be of immense benefit to the Chakmas and Hajongs of Bangladesh displaced because of the construction of the Kaptai Dam who have been refugees for nearly 65 years. The Supreme Court in Committee for C.R. of C.A.P. v. State of Arunachal Pradesh directed the Government of India and Arunachal Pradesh to grant citizenship to eligible persons from these communities and to protect their life and liberty and further prohibited discrimination against them.

“In the Citizenship Act, 1955 … the following proviso shall be inserted, namely: ‘Provided that persons belonging to minority communities, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who have been exempted by the Central Government by or under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 or from the application of the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 or any order made thereunder, shall not be treated as illegal migrants for the purposes of this Act,” the amendment reads.


Joint Parliamentary Committee

A joint parliamentary committee, comprising members of both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, will examine the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. The committee will be chaired by Satyapal Singh, a representative of the Baghpat Lok Sabha constituency. The bill, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha by union home minister Rajnath Singh in July 2016, had come under attack from opposition parties for being “biased” towards certain religions.



Monday, 16th Jan 2017, 04:21:28 AM

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