UPSC: Citizenship Amendment Bill
Citizenship Amendment Bill
Union Cabinet cleared the redrafted Citizenship Amendment Bill.
- The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) has recommended that Assam government should help settle migrants “especially in places which are not densely populated, thus, causing lesser impact on the demographic changes and providing assistance to the indigenous Assamese people.”
- The committee rejected the amendment to exclude Bangladesh from the list of benefactor countries.
Highlights of the Bill:
- 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.
- The bill would pave the way for giving citizenship, mostly to illegal Hindu migrants from Bangladesh in Assam, who came after March 1971, in violation of the agreement of the Assam Accord, 1985.
- 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 (e.g. parking in a no parking zone).
Definition of illegal migrants
- The Citizenship Act, 1955 prohibits illegal migrants from acquiring Indian citizenship.
- The Bill amends the Act to provide that the following minority groups will not be treated as illegal migrants: Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. However, to get this benefit, they must have also been exempted from the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 by the central government.