𝐂𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐳𝐞𝐧𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩 𝐀𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐀𝐜𝐭(CAA)

𝐖𝐡𝐲 𝐢𝐧 𝐍𝐞𝐰𝐬?

The Indian government has announced the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

What is CAA

•The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 grants citizenship to undocumented non-Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who entered India on or before 31st December, 2014, belonging to six religious communities - Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians.

•It exempts the members of the six communities from any criminal case under the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Passport Act, 1920.

Understanding Citizenship

Citizenship is a crucial concept that delineates the bond between a nation and its people. It encompasses a set of rights and responsibilities that individuals have towards the state, and vice versa.

Rights and Duties of Citizenship

  • Protection by the State: Citizens are entitled to legal protection and support from the government.
  • Right to Vote: Citizens have the privilege to participate in democratic processes by voting in elections.
  • Access to Public Offices: Citizenship often entails the right to hold certain public offices, enabling citizens to contribute to governance.
  • In return for these rights, citizens are expected to fulfill certain duties and obligations to the state, such as obeying laws, paying taxes, and participating in civic activities.

Citizenship in the Indian Context

India follows a system of single citizenship, as outlined in its Constitution. Under Article 11 of the Constitution, the Parliament has the authority to regulate citizenship through legislation. This led to the enactment of the Citizenship Act of 1955, which governs the acquisition and determination of Indian citizenship.

Legislative Authority

Entry 17 of List 1 in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution grants exclusive power to Parliament to legislate on matters related to citizenship, naturalization, and aliens. Consequently, Parliament has the sole authority to enact laws pertaining to citizenship.

Evolution of Citizenship Laws in India

Historically, eligibility for Indian citizenship was primarily based on birth within the territory of India. However, amendments to citizenship laws have been introduced over the years to address evolving concerns.

1987 Amendment: Amidst allegations of significant illegal migration from Bangladesh, the citizenship laws were amended to require that at least one parent of the individual seeking citizenship should be Indian.

2004 Amendment: Subsequent amendments in 2004 further tightened the criteria by stipulating that not only should one parent be Indian, but the other should also not be an illegal immigrant.

These amendments reflect the evolving socio-political landscape and the need to address issues related to citizenship and immigration.

Illegal Migration in India

According to the law, a foreigner is considered an illegal migrant in two cases:

1. Entering the country without proper travel documents such as a passport and visa.

2. Entering the country with valid documents but overstaying the permitted time period.

If found guilty, illegal migrants may face imprisonment or deportation under the Foreigners Act, 1946, and the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920.

Here are the key takeaways from the Citizenship Amendment Act rules.

Who can apply for citizenship under Section 6B?

The Indian government has clarified that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) does not automatically grant citizenship to anyone. Rather, it modifies the category of people who can apply for citizenship by exempting them from the definition of "illegal migrant" under certain conditions. 

1. Application for grant of citizenship by registration or naturalisation shall not be entertained unless

  • The person is of Indian origin.
  • The person is married to a citizen of India.
  • The person is a minor child of a person who is a citizen of India.
  • The person's parents are registered as citizens of India.
  • The person or either of his parents was a citizen of Independent India.
  • The person is registered as an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder.
2. To be eligible, the applicant must belong to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, or Christian community and come from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, or Pakistan. 
3. They must have entered India on or before December 31, 2014, due to fear of religious persecution in their home country and have lived in India for at least five years. 
4. The application process will be conducted completely online, and a web portal has been provided for this purpose.

Special documents required with application

The new rules suggest that those applying for Indian citizenship will have to submit two special documents. An Indian citizen will have to testify as to the character of the applicant via an affidavit. The applicant must have adequate knowledge of one of the languages listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.

"The application from a person for grant of citizenship by naturalisation fulfilling the qualifications for naturalisation under the provisions of the Third Schedule, is submitted in Form VIIIA which includes –

  • an affidavit verifying the correctness of the statements made in the application along with an affidavit from an Indian citizen testifying the character of the applicant.
  • a declaration from the applicant that he has adequate knowledge of one of the languages as specified in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution.

The rules said those who can speak or read or write that language will be considered to have adequate knowledge.

The person should also carry a declaration saying the citizenship of his country shall stand renounced irrevocably in the event of his application being approved.

However, the final decision on granting citizenship will rest with the Government of India.

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