Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019: Violative of Fundamental Rights?

On December 11, 2019, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) was passed by the Parliament. The Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019 amended the Citizenship Act of 1955 to give Indian citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian religious minorities who fled from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan before December 2014 because of “religious persecution or fear of religious persecution.” The Act, however, does not apply to Muslims. In six years, these migrants will be granted Indian citizenship on a fast track basis. The legislation also lowered the residence requirement for these migrants’ naturalization from eleven to five years.

The CAA violates the right to equality of a person in India on the following grounds:

  • Other religious minorities:

The CAA only applies to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, and Parsis, but not to immigrants from other religious groups. The Ahmedia Muslim sect, as well as Shia Muslims, endure prejudice in Pakistan. Muslims and Hindus in Myanmar, as well as Hindu and Christian Tamils in Sri Lanka, are persecuted. Despite this, the CAA continues to ignore them. The Act does not include persons of all religions, indicating a violation of the right to equality under Article 14, which is a basic right guaranteed to all citizens of India.

As held in State of West Bengal v. Anwar Ali Sarkar[i], if legislation discriminates, the state must be able to explain how it arrived at the classifications; these classifications must appear fair; why the distinction between the various categories is appropriate; and why differential treatment is required because of the classifications. So far, no coherent explanation has arisen for why oppressed individuals must be classified and treated differently depending on their religious beliefs.

  • Other countries:

The CAA includes migrants from only three neighboring countries Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan and does not include the migrants from the other neighboring countries. This violates Article 14 because it does not treat all the migrants in India equally. The CAA only includes migrants from three neighboring countries: Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan; migrants from other neighboring nations are not included. Because it does not treat all migrants in India fairly, this is a breach of Article 14.

  • Cut-off date:

The CAA only applies to persons who moved on or before December 31, 2014, and it does not apply to anyone who migrated after that date, which is also a breach of the notion of equality before the law as defined in Article 14 of the constitution. Only people who arrived in India before December 31, 2014, are eligible to seek for citizenship. Those who entered India after that date have no such protection, even if they had faced religious persecution in the subject nations before or after that date. As a result, the CAA’s ostensibly humanitarian mission is threatened.

  • Non-religious persecution:

The CAA excludes unlawful migrants who entered India for reasons other than religion, such as their sexual orientation, political convictions, or race.

When it comes to Citizenship, the parliament has unrestricted ability to enact laws for the country. However, some fundamental principles of the constitution, such as secularism and equality, are violated by this Act. It may, however, make its way to the Supreme Court, which will serve as the last interpretation. If it is ultra-wires and breaches constitutional features, it will be struck down; if it does not, the law will remain in place.

But, most importantly, New Delhi must achieve a balance because this also involves neighbouring countries. Any overzealous attempt to house the refugees should not come at the expense of goodwill built up over time. India, as a land of diverse cultures and traditions, the origin of religions, the accepting of faiths, and the protector of persecuted people in the past, should continue to uphold the values of secularism in the future.

References:

  1. https://byjus.com/free-ias-prep/citizenship-amendment-bill-2019/

Suhrith Parthasarathy, Why the CAA Violates the Constitution, The India Forum, https://www.theindiaforum.in/article/why-caa-violates-constitution


[i] State of West Bengal v. Anwar Ali Sarkar, AIR 1952 SC 75.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

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