CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT 2019

Introduction :

 India is a secular country. India supports the slogan of “ Unity in Diversity”. Generally India doesn’t support ant religion and this may be the reason for people to apply for  Indian citizenship. Citizenship Act was first enacted by Parliament of India in the year 1955.It provides Indian citizenship to persons who desire to get it based on their eligibility. Because, people have different means to get Indian Citizenship. A person can terminate his/her citizenship as well. Citizenship Act 1955 is “an act to provide for the acquisition and determination of Indian citizenship” and it  was amended several times in years 1986,1992,2003,2005 and 2019. Generally migrants will not have citizenship of that country to which country they have migrated.

Trans-border migration of people happens always in all countries. In India trans-border migration happens from the neighboring countries like Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan. These people are termed as illegal migrants and they are not the citizens of India. These people will not get Indian citizenship easily. Citizenship amendment act 2019 states that people belonging to Hindu, Parsi, Jain, Christian, Buddhist or Sikh community from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, who entered into India on or before December 31st 2014 shall not be treated as illegal migrants and it was enacted by Parliament in Seventieth Year of Republic of India. Many International organizations have also reacted to the implementation of CAA in India. After this bill was passed by Parliament Indian Union Muslim League filed a petition in Supreme Court. People migrating from Bangladesh generally settle in North-Eastern states like Assam . In Assam, Army has also been called to settle the issues. Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 has rebelled many people from various states of India. It also resulted in many religious riots among the people. It has many complications. This study aims at reflecting the impact of Citizenship amendment act on citizens of India and especially on north eastern states.

Analysis :    

  Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 amends Citizenship act 1955. Earlier people from neighbouring countries used to migrate from their country to India. These were called immigrants. They mainly used to settle in north eastern states. They eventually acquired land and property and became a threat to natives. In order to identify the illegal immigrants NRC( National Register of Citizens )  was implemented in Assam. NRC was a part of Citizenship Amendment act 2003 and was to be implemented in all states of India. Identifying the foreigners was the main aim of NRC. Due to this there were concerns that CAA ( Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 ) might be a shield to non muslims to protect themselves and to claim themselves a migrants. National Register of Citizens left nearly two million people in the state of statelessness. Many Hindus and muslims were considered as illegal immigrants by this. BJP ( Bharatiya Janata Party ) has said that the new citizenship law will be a solution for this. Assam people have a greater effect of CAA as NRC was only implemented in Assam and it has shown most of the people as immigrants and they now have a chance to acquire citizenship by claiming themselves as non-muslims through CAA. CAA is also against the Assam Accord of 1985 which grants citizenship to only those Bangladeshis who came into India before March 1971. In contrast to this CAA makes people of six religions eligible for citizenship.

CAA was passed by the parliament on December 11, 2019. As stated earlier Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 provides citizenship to six religious minorities Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Buddhist, Christian and Jain who fled from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh before December 2014 due to religious persecution in their respected countries. Opponents argue that this bill violates some of the principles laiddown by the Constitution of India. CAA has its impact on Indian economy as well. CAA is not allowing muslims of other countries to apply for citizenship but India has business relations with Islam nations. India also has good business relations with US, but US also shows some incredulity in this act. Cheap labour also is very important to world countries but India has to face challenges from other countries as they have different opinions on CAA.

 Features of Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 :

1] This law provides OCI citizens to move, work and study in India.

2] 2016 Bill states OCI account holders can revoke their citizenship for five reasons. Citizenship Act 2019 has introduced another reason for their revocation.

3] Citizenship Amendment Act 2016 states the immigrants ( Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Parsi, Buddhist, Christian ) who entered into India illegally from Afganistan, Pakistan and Bangaldesh will have to live in India to apply for citizenship by naturalization. But Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 provides citizenship to those individuals who enter into India on or before December 31, 2014.

Arguments Against Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 :

  The main contention of many critics that it doesn’t allow muslims to acquire citizenship of India. As this bill doesn’t include muslims, critics said that this bill is supporting religious discrimination. It is against Article 14 of Constitution of India which states as follows “Protection of life and liberty and equality before law – No person shall be deprived of his life or liberty except according to procedure established by law, nor shall any person be denied equality before the law or the equal protection of the law within the territory of India. And they also argue that this act is against muslim community as this act largely affects the muslims. Shia, Baluchi and Ahmadiyya Muslims who suffer discrimination in Pakistan or Hazaras in Afghanistan are not invited to claim for nationality in India. There are several other issues which surround CAA as there is no particular reason for choosing only few neighboring countries and few religious minorities who face discrimination in their nations. This act is advantageous to only those people who suffer religious persecution and completely ignores other issues. The Act is an example of class law, since it is not appropriate for discrimination based on religious beliefs.

       In the Indian Constitution certain rights like Article 19 are available to only citizens of India but certain other rights like Article 14 and 21 are available to all the people who are living in India. In National Human Rights Commission vs State of Arunachal Pradesh, the issue was regarding Chakma refugees ( immigrants from Bangladesh ). The Court has observed that Article 21 ( right to life and liberty ) which is a fundamental right is available to Chakmas also even though they are not citizens of India. So CAA is unconstitutional as it violates both Article 14 and 21 of Indian Constitution.

         CAA may also pose a threat to National security. The first main reason is it allows only certain community people of certain countries to apply for citizenship ignoring other religions like muslims. Second reason is that Pakistan’s ISI may push their own people into India which will be a major threat to the national security of India. Third reason is CAA is forcing to provide false declarations if they want to apply for Indian citizenship.

Arguments in favor of Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 :

 Many people also argue that this Act is not against muslims as the other communities like muslims can obtain citizenship through naturalization. According to Harsh Salve this act is not anti-muslim. This act is also not against Article 14 of Constitution of India. The US Supreme Court  had also imposed a travel ban on many muslim nations. Similar rationale was provided by Indian judiciary.  Madras High Court in David John Hopkins vs. Union of India and Another (1997) ruled that the Union’s right to reject nationality is justified and is not protected by constitutional protections under Article 14.  This act fixes a particular date ( December 31 2014 ) to enter into India and those who enter after that date will not be entitled to acquire Indian citizenship.

As stated earlier this act was opposed by many people. Defending this bill Amit Shah stated that there is a fundamental difference between a refugee and infiltrator and this bill is for refugees not infiltrators.

Protests Against Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 :

There were several protests against Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 across the India by individuals, students and different communities. Students, academics and other members of Indian diaspora have protested against Citizenship Amendment Act 2019. There was an FIR filed against Jamia Millia Islamia. Police had used violence against students of different universities which was condemned by the student community.  Different individuals from across the world had also reacted to CAA 2019 and its effects on Indian citizens. Jeremy Lawrence a spokesperson with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights ( OHCHR ) said that “ this amendment will have a discriminatory effect on peoples access to nationality”. Mr. Laurence also commented that this act appears to undermine the equality before law as provided by the Constitution of India. A case was also filed by Indian Union Muslim League against CAA.

 INDIAN UNION MUSLIM LEAGUE VS UNION OF INDIA :

 This case was filed under Article 32 of Indian Constitution challenging the constitutional validity of CAA. Around 200 petitions were tagged to this petition and it states that CAA is a violation of Article 14 and 21 of Indian Constitution. It argued that in R.K Garg case the Supreme Court established that Article 1 prohibits Parliament from enacting laws that arbitrarily or irrationally differentiate between groups of persons. The petitioners also claim that CAA fails to reasonable classification test and thus violates Article 14 of Constitution of India.

REFERENCES:

1.Naresh Kumar,The Citizenship Amendment Act 2019(CAA) and NationalRegister Of Citizens(NRC):The Cuteness Law in India 7(19),JCR,3866 ,9,(2020).

2.Nagarwal, Narender, The Poisonous Law : The Citizenship Amendment Act 2019,2019.

3.Citizenship Amnedment Bill : India’s new ‘anti-muslim’ law explained, BBC, December 11, 2019, www.bbc.com

4.Helan Regan, Swati Gupta, Omar Khan, India passes controversial citizenship bill that excludes Muslims, CNN, December 17, 2019, https://edition.cnn.com/

5.India : Citizenship bill Discriminates against muslims, Human Rights Watch, December 11, 2019, https://www.hrw.org/

 

6. CAA Protests: Indian Students Worldwide Raise Voices in Solidarity, The Wire, December 23, 2019, https://thewire.in/

7. New citizenship law in India ‘fundamentally discriminatory’: UN human rights office, UN News, December 13, 2019, https://news.un.org

8.Indian Union Muslim League v. Union Of India,AIR,2020 SC 1470

9.National Human rights commission vs State of Arunachal Pradesh, 1996 1 SCC 742

10. David John Hopkins v Union of India and Another, AIR 1977 Madras 366

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