Home Minister Amit Shah tabled the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill Analysis In Rajya Sabha.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 was passed by the Parliament of India on 11 December 2019. It amended the Citizenship Act of 1955 by providing a path to Indian citizenship for illegal migrants of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian religious minorities, who had fled persecution from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan before December 2014.
Muslims from those countries were not given such eligibility. The act was the first-time religion had been overtly used as a criterion for citizenship under Indian law.
Citizenship (Amendment) Bill Analysis Video
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which leads the Indian government, had promised in previous election manifestos to offer Indian citizenship to members of persecuted religious minorities who had migrated from neighbouring countries
Under the 2019 amendment, migrants who had entered India by 31 December 2014, and had suffered “religious persecution or fear of religious persecution” in their country of origin were made eligible for citizenship
The amendment also relaxed the residence requirement for naturalization of these migrants from twelve years to six. According to Intelligence Bureau records, there will be just over 30,000 immediate beneficiaries of the bill.
The amendment has been widely criticised as discriminating on the basis of religion, particularly for excluding Muslims
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) called it “fundamentally discriminatory”, adding that while India’s “goal of protecting persecuted groups is welcome”, this should be accomplished through a non-discriminatory “robust national asylum system”.
Critics express concerns that the bill would be used, along with the National Register of Citizens (NRC), to render many Muslim citizens stateless, as they may be unable to meet stringent birth or identity proof requirements
Citizenship (Amendment) Bill Analysis
Below is detailed analysis of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill Analysis;
Exclusion of victimized Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan
Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are not offered eligibility for citizenship under the new Act.
Critics have questioned the exclusion. The amendment limits itself to the Muslim-majority neighbours of India and takes no cognisance of the persecuted Muslims of those countries.
Exclusion of other communities
The Act does not include migrants from non-Muslim countries fleeing persecution to India, Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar, Hindu refugees from Sri Lanka, and Buddhist refugees from Tibet, China.
The Act does not mention Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan Tamils were allowed to settle as refugees in Tamil Nadu in 1980s and 1990s due to systemic violence from the Sinhalese of Sri Lanka. They include 29,500 “hill country Tamils” (Malaiha).
The Act does not provide relief to Tibetan Buddhist refugees, who came to India in the 1950s and 1960s. Their status has been of refugees over the decades. According to a 1992 UNHCR report, the then Indian government stated that they remain refugees and do not have the right to acquire Indian nationality.
The Act does not address Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar. The Indian government has been deporting Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.
Relationship to NRC
The National Register of Citizens is a registry of all legal citizens, whose construction and maintenance were mandated by the 2003 amendment of the Citizenship Act.
As of January 2020, it has only been implemented for the state of Assam, but the BJP has promised its implementation for the whole of India in its 2019 election manifesto.
The NRC documents all the legal citizens so that the people who are left out can be recognized as illegal immigrants (often called “foreigners”). The experience with Assam NRC shows that many people were declared “foreigners” because their documents were deemed insufficient
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