Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 is also known as CAB. When we look in to the citizenship Amendment Bill obviously it is trying to Amend or change the law related to citizenship and the law we talk about is THE CITIZENSHIP ACT, 1955. This Act tells about
- Who can become a citizen of India
- What are the ways to become an Indian citizen
- How a person can lose Indian citizenship
This Act was passed on 30th December 1955 by the parliament and was enacted of the 6th year of the Republic of India.
A large number of Hindus, Muslims migrated to and from Pakistan so that created a lot of refugees and then some people simply wanted for Indian citizenship because they decided to leave in FREE INDIA after the British left. All these factors have made the matter of Indian constitution very complicated and that is the reason in 1955 this Citizen amendment was introduced by the parliament.
When we look at the part II of Indian constitution which talks about Indian constitution basically, (5-11) articles tells about who will be the citizen of India. It nowhere tells how to get it or how to lose citizenship.
Art (11)- It clearly says that ultimately parliament had the power to make any laws with respect to Acquisition, and termination of citizenship. It is nothing but part to make regulations and laws on it.
Art(10)- It says if you are already a citizen of India then the new laws which the parliament brings out with the help of Art (11) will not effect your citizenship. Anyhow by using the power of Art (10) and (11) the parliament enacted citizenship Act of 1955.
Amendments which has been done:
This Act has been amended in 1986, 1992,2003,2005,2015 and most recently few days back on 4th December 2019. When it introduced in the parliament for 6th time and that brings as to CAB of 2019.
PURPOSE BEYOND THE AMENDMENT:
It is to grant Indian Citizenship to illegal migrants of Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Sikh, Parsi and Christian communities. Coming from the Muslim majority south Asian countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. These all three countries are muslim majority country and Islam is the official state religion.
When we say illegal migrants there are two conditions that need to be met:-
- Any foreigner who has entered in to India without a valid passport or a travel Document
- Any foreigner who has entered India with a valid passport or a travel document but they are staying beyond permitted period of time.
Through this Amendment now the central government is saying that any person belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian Community who are from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh will not be considered as an illegal migrant if the person entered in to India on or before December 31st, 2014.
The proposed law also reduces the duration of residency from existing (11) to (5) years for people belonging to same five religion and three countries.
DURING BRITISH RULE:
We know that Pakistan was created in the name of Islam and in 1955 East Pakistan was created which is today known as Bangladesh. When partition happened millions of people got displaced and many died. It was the largest and most rapid migration in human history. Millions had to abandon their ancestral property and crossed boarders run through land and rivers. It was horrific, Then in 1950 the PM of India and Pakistan Nehru, Liyakath Ali khan signed an agreement to ensure the rights of minorities to be protected in both the countries. Now this pact came to be known as Liyakath Nehru Pact or DELHI pact because it took place in Delhi.
Pakistan never took care of minorities and in fact Jogender nath was the 1st Law minister of Pakistan. He voiced against PM liyakath Ali khan’s decision to make Pakistan an Islamic nation.
In India we did set up a national commission for minority communities like Muslim, Christian, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi have been notified as minority community. As a result Pakistan, Bangladesh and to some extent Afghanistan have a lot of people who are Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Sikh, Parsi and Christian that means they are in minorities in these countries.
Now because of being ill treated by their respective native country governments many people are residing in India illegally that means if we simply look at the essence of this amendment it is purely meant to ease the process of acquiring Indian citizenship for refugees of these communities who are residing in India illegally.
If we look at this situation in the normal sense there is nothing wrong in giving shelter to refugees who are facing trouble in any particular countries specially based on religion.
However there are two main oppositions to the Bill:
- People of North- east India strongly oppose the Bill they feel that it will change the demography of North-East India in the influx of migrants from Bangladesh
- The opposition party says that the bill is discriminatory and it is Anti-Muslim
It violates Art(14) of the Constitution that is right to equality. Citizenship can’t be given based on religion
There might be a political Agenda behind all of these and I’M not at all ignoring that but the Government has to use its discretionary power to differentiate between them whether you like it or not. India was divided based on religion. Two nation theories still exists in people’s mind. So the Government has much right to Apply power to decide which community has the right to enter India.
Somehow this amendment violates Art(14) of Indian constitution. At first I thought it’s a false ridiculous claim but I have to look at Art(14) although I known it but to still what it says is?
VIOLATION OF ART (14):
Art(14):- it says Right to equality-the state shall not deny any person’s equity before the law or the equal protection of the law within the territory of India. Prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth
The word person has been used instead of citizen. In landmark case Indira Nehru Gandhi vs Shri Raj Narain & Anr, Supreme Court held that aticlle14 is considered as one of the basic feature of Indian Constitution.
Citizenship will be granted to them through Naturalization that is wherein they should have stayed in India for a prescribed number of years so once they fulfill this criteria the citizenship would be granted to these Non-Muslim Refugees and illegal migrants.
The latest version of the CAB that has been approved by the union cabinet has introduced a few new provisions which were not present in the earlier versions that had lapsed in the parliament.
According to these new provisions the new CAB will not be applicable to the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura that has been defined under the 6th schedule of Indian constitution. These provisions will also not be Applicable in few parts of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland where the inner line permit (ILP) has been implemted.
INNER LINE PERMIT:
Inner line permit is basically an official travel document that is issued by Government of India. There are few protected areas in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland where the ILP system is implemented. So outsiders if they have to enter these protected areas then they need to obtain the ILP as a travel document from Government of India. These protected areas have been setup under the ILP system in order to protect the economic interest and the unique culture and language of the native ethnic groups which resides in these areas.
Dealing with problem of illegal migrants has always been a necessity for the sake of the natives of the North East but unfortunately the problem has been turned into politics by various political parties. It was these problems of illegal migration which led to the Assam agitation of the late 1970’s then finally, the Assam Agitation was brought to an end in 1985 by signing of Assam accord.
UNEQUAL AND UNSECULAR:
The bill is considered to be and unequal and unsecular on two grounds:-
- It does not extend the benefits of all persecution religious minorities
- It provides citizenship for Non-muslims who are excluded from the NRC list .
The idea of India has always been rooted in the principle of secularism and this is been the case since the days of our freedom struggle.
If India standing as a shying example of Pluralism in South Asia it is because of the principles of Secularism which are embodied in the Indian constitutionand as well as in the establishment of the Indian republic.
In the case of S.R Bomai v. Union of India, it was held that secularism is part of the basic structure. Therefore any Act passed by the Parliament must not be against Secularism.
Intention of bringing this Act is to give citizenship to the refugees, individuals who faced the religious discrimination in the countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.
In my opinion CAB violates Article 14,21 and the Basic structure of Indian constitution which has to be taken in to the consideration and declare CAB as null and void. Although, NRC has to be implemented for the public good.
 1975 AIR 1590, 1975 SCC (2) 159 (India).
 (1994) AIR 1918, 1994 SCC (3), 1, JT 1994 (2)215, 1994 SCALE (2)37 (India).