An Insight Into Citizenship Amendment Act 2019
On 12th December 2019, President Ramnath Kovind has given nod to the Citizen Amendment Bill that subsequently became an act. It was passed against the will of some citizens which created tension atmosphere all over the country. ,The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 amends the old Citizenship Act 1955. The new act, i.e., Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 provides the citizenship to the persecuted minorities in neighbouring countries. It means that persecuted minorities such as Hindu, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhist, Parsis and Christians which are fleeing from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan. As a matter of fact, this law is not applicable to 1.33 billion people of India, rather, is only applicable to the above stated class of religiously persecuted immigrating persons intending to secure Indian citizenship. Although this act is applicable all over India but on the demand of North eastern state government has given exception to tribal areas of state of Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya, and Tripura under 6th schedule of Article 244 to Indian constitution. Also, the Act does not apply to the areas under the Inner line point which is under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation,1873. The Inner line permit regulates visit of Indians to Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland. And this bill is applicable to group who arrived on or before December 31st 2014.
IMPORTANT AMENDMENT BROUGHT BY CAA, 2019:
In the Citizenship Act, 1955, one of the requirement for the citizenship by naturalisation was that the applicant must have resided in India during the last 12 months, as well as for 11 of the previous 14 years. But now the new amendment relaxes the second requirement from 11 years to 6 years as a specific condition for applicants belonging to these six religions and the aforementioned three countries.
Which simply means that above stipulated class of illegal migrants from the three countries, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, will not be treated as illegal migrants, thereby making them eligible for citizenship of India.1 These illegal migrants upon acquiring citizenship shall be considered as Indian citizens from the date they entered into India and all legal proceedings qua their status as illegal migrants or their citizenship shall stand abated.2
CRITICISM OF CAA:
As the CAA is criticised for being the new law governing citizenship of illegal migrants in India as it provides for differential treatment on the basis of:
Country of origin;
Date of entry into India;
Place of residence in India.
Further, the government has been criticised on why persecuted groups from other neighbouring countries like Rohingyas from Mynamar, Madhesis from Nepal, Tamil Elam from SriLanka and Muslims from China conspicuously ignored from idea of “Secular, Progressiveness and Inclusivity” from the current Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 which violates the Article 3 of Convention on Torture, 1984 that prohibits parties from returning, extraditing, or refouling any person to a state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture” which India has signed on 14 Oct 1997 and are bound by Article 51(c) of the Indian Constitution which says to foster respect to international law and treaties…”
Furthermore, there are few critical concerns around CAA, which can be seen after the implementation of CAA. One of the major concern is that India’s neighbouring countries may push their spies in the name of persecuted minority to aim India intelligence. Other big issue would be implementation of this act in different state. Like recently the Kerala Government moved to Supreme Court against the CAA, seeking to declare it violative of the principles pf equality, freedom, and secularism enshrined in the constitution.
Clearly, this classification is not based on any intelligible differentia having relationship with the object sought to be achieved, hence, there is no reasonable classification. The differentia neither covers within its ambit all the neighbouring countries, nor does it cover all religiously persecuted minorities. The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 does not have any rational or just objective to achieve and hence it prima facie fails to qualify the test of reasonableness.
Nevertheless, the constitutional vires of the newly enacted Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 has already been challenged before the Hon‟ble Supreme Court of India, who will now examine its constitutional validity on the touchstone of “Test of Reasonableness”, but until then the debate as to the positive or negative discrimination created by the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 will continue surely.
While this study does not offer a conclusive answer to the question whether the CAA should be valid? It created rigid situation all over India. One of the brutal example we can see in JNU and Jamia university. The government and judiciary has to find middle path, respecting both the for and against thinker. It is obscure that different article of Constitution and other act should be considered.
1 G.S.R. 685 (E) and G.S.R. 686 (E), Gazette of India [07-09-2015]; G.S.R. 702(E) and G.S.R. 703(E), Gazette of India [18-072016].