Lok Sabha Passes Citizenship Amendment Bill

Lok Sabha Passes Citizenship Amendment Bill

Lok Sabha Passes Citizenship Amendment Bill

The Lok Sabha on 9th December 2019 had cleared the much-debated Citizenship (Amendment) Bill after a long and fiery discussion in which many members of the Opposition parties categorized the bill as “anti-constitutional”. The vote has been passed by 311 ayes and 80 no's.

The legislation is going to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha on 11th December 2019, Wednesday.

The bill pursues to relax conditions for obtaining citizenship for non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh as well as Afghanistan. According to the bill, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, Jains and Christians who have migrated to India with no travel documents from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan on or before 31st December 2014 shall not be considered as illegal migrants. This is suggested to be carried out by means of inserting a new provision to Section 2(1)(b) of the Citizenship Act 1955. The current Citizenship Act doesn’t make out the claims of illegal migrants for citizenship.

The bill also proposed in order to relax the condition for acquisition of citizenship through naturalization for non-Muslim migrants from these nations. According to the existing law, an individual must be a resident in India for the time period of 12 months immediately preceding the date of application, as well as must have been residing in India for 11 out of the 14 years preceding the stated period of 12 months.

This Bill proposed to make non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan qualified for citizenship through naturalization if they could establish their residency in India for 5 years in place of existing 11 years.

An important feature of the Bill is that the relaxations for citizenship through naturalization shall not be applicable towards tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura which are included in the 6th Schedule of the Constitution and the area under "The Inner Line" notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1873.

This exclusion is provided apparently considering the protests from North-Eastern states against the previous Citizenship Amendment Bill, which was passed by the 16th Lok Sabha in January 2019. That bill had caused intense protests in North-Eastern states on the ground that it would legitimize the stay of several illegal migrants, troubling the local demographics.

Lok Sabha argument

The Union Home Minister, Amit Shah had stated in the lower house that the Bill is not violating the constitutional provisions, by responding to a discussion on the argumentative legislation in the Lok Sabha. It would provide relief to individuals living a painful life after facing persecution in neighbouring nations, Union Home Minister stated.

Amit Shah also added that had India been not divided along religious lines, there would have no requirement to bring in such legislation, targeting the Congress. The Bill is not violating Article 14 of the Constitution as it intends to provide citizenship to persecuted individuals.

Also, the contentious Bill has been introduced in the Lower House after an intense debate followed through a division of votes, with Amit Shah stating that the legislation has the endorsement of India's 130 crore nationals.

The Opposition parties in the lower house had opposed the introduction of the Bill, which pursues to give citizenship to non-Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan escaping religious persecution there, stating that it violated many provisions of the Constitution, which includes the move to grant citizenship depending on the religion.

Amit Shah held that the Citizenship Amendment Bill doesn’t discriminate against anyone and doesn’t snatch anyone’s rights while initiating the debate on the Bill.

Trying to put to rest the fears of people of the Northeast, Amit Shah stated that the Central government is committed to protecting the customs and culture of people of the region as well as informed that Manipur would be brought under the Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime, where the suggested law would not be applicable.

Shah also stated that under the suggested legislation, citizenship would be granted to refugees who are coming from the three countries after facing religious oppression there even without documents, which includes ration cards.

The Union Home Minister, Amit Shah said that the Citizenship Amendment Bill is not even 0.001% against Muslims. It is against infiltrators.

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eStartIndia Team

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