NEW DELHI—The rules for the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 or the CAA, which excludes Muslims from getting citizenship of India, are going to be notified before the Lok Sabha elections, according to different media reports.
One report says that it may be notified before January 26. The government is in a hurry to notify it for electoral gains while the matter is still pending for adjudication before the Supreme Court. There seems to be some substance in the news report as Union Home Minister Amit Shah in a public meeting in West Bengal on December 23, 2023 announced that the CAA is the law of the land and no one can stop its implementation. He declared that this is BJP’s commitment and it will be fulfilled.
His announcement came despite the fact the constitutional validity of the CAA has been challenged by several petitioners in the Supreme Court but the Central government is not ready to wait for the decision of the top court.
This act enables the grant of Indian citizenship to non-Muslim (Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists and Parsis) migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The cut-off date for such migrants is December 31, 2014 which means that they should have migrated to India before that date. The reason for such a grant of citizenship was attributed to the alleged religious persecution.
It may be recalled that the famous Shahin Bagh protest took place soon after the passage of the law. There were widespread protests across the country also. The Muslim community and the Opposition parties had termed the CAA discriminatory and unconstitutional. There was a vehement demand to roll it back. Assam and Tripura too witnessed a strong opposition to the CAA.
Those who have filed petitions in the Supreme Court contend that the CAA caters only to Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. They allege that this is arbitrary. It is argued that there are persecuted Rohingya people from Myanmar and Tamils from Sri Lanka but the CAA excludes them from getting Indian citizenship.
The CAA is also opposed to a dangerous combination with the NRC or the National Citizenship Register. It is alleged that though the non-Muslims will require no paper to prove their citizenship, the Muslim community will be forced to such scrutiny.
The bill for citizenship amendment was passed by Lok Sabha on December 9, 2019, and Rajya Sabha two days later which was assented by the President of India on December 12, 2019. It came into force in January 2020. Since the CAA rules were not notified, it was not implemented.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said in a party rally on December 27, 2023 in West Bengal that the BJP was committed to the CAA. He said, “CAA is the law of the land and no one can stop it. This is our party’s commitment.”
The government extended the date for framing the rules of the CAA many a time. The government took more than four years to frame the rules of the CAA which is now said to be ready. The online portal for the rules is also said to be in place. The process to apply for citizenship will be online and it can be done on mobile phones also.
The non-Muslim migrants who seek Indian citizenship will be required to submit no document. They will have to tell just the year when they entered India. No document will be sought from the applicants. Requests of those who had applied for citizenship after 2014 will be created as per the new rules.
It is reported that thirty-two thousand migrants came to India till 2014 from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Junior Union Home Minister Nityanand Rai has said in a statement that Indian citizenship was granted to 3117 non-Muslim migrants who came to India between 2018 and 2021 even without the CAA.
Under the Citizenship Act of 1955, over thirty District Magistrates and Home Secretaries of nine states have been authorized to grant citizenship. Those states are Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Maharashtra.