What is Citizenship Amendment Act?

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What is Citizenship Amendment Act 2019?

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is a law passed by the Indian Parliament. Moreover, it amends the existing Citizenship Act of 1955. The change is the creation of a fast-track path to Indian citizenship for undocumented immigrants belonging to religious minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. This blog summarises the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 as well as the importance and debates regarding the Amendment. 

What is Citizenship Amendment Act 2019?

The Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 makes citizenship easier for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians who entered India before December 2014. 

  • Additionally, people from the listed religions are facing religious persecution in their home countries.
  • They can now apply for citizenship after residing in India for 5 years, instead of eleven years. 
  • It is important to note that Muslims are excluded from this process.
Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019
Bill TitleCitizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019
Introduced9 December 2019
Introduced byAmit Shah, Minister of Home Affairs
First reading9 December 2019
Passed by Lok Sabha10th December, 2019
Second Reading10th December, 2019
Passed by Rajya Sabha 11th December, 2019
Third Reading 11th December, 2019
Assented to12th December, 2019
Signed by Ram Nath Kovind, The President of India
Signed12th December, 2019
Effective10th January, 2020
Code Sections Created11th March, 2024
Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019

What are the Features of the Citizenship Amendment Act?

Additionally, this legislation applies to people compelled to seek refuge in India because of religious persecution. Its goal is to protect people from legal actions related to illegal migration. 

Moreover, the features of CAA are as follows:

  • The reduction of the naturalization period from 11 years to 5 years for applicants belonging to the specified 6 religions.
  • For eligibility, the cut-off date for citizenship is set on the 31st of December 2014, hence requiring applicants to have entered India on or before this date.
  • Upon acquiring citizenship, people will be considered citizens of India from their date of entry into the country.
    • Moreover, any ongoing legal proceedings against them regarding illegal migration or citizenship will also be closed.
  • Furthermore, the Act includes provisions regarding Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders.
    • Those holding OCI cards, which allow foreign citizens of Indian origin to reside and work in India indefinitely, risk losing their OCI status if they break local laws through major or minor violations and offences.

What are the Exceptions in the Citizenship Amendment Act?

Furthermore, the Exceptions in the CAA are as follows: 

  • The Act says that the rules regarding citizenship for undocumented immigrants will not apply to the tribal regions of Meghalaya, Assam, Tripura and Mizoram, as mentioned in the 6th Schedule of the Constitution.
    • Moreover, the areas of Garo Hills (in Meghalaya), Karbi Anglong (in Assam), Chakma District (in Mizoram), and Tripura Tribal Areas District. 
  • Additionally, it will not apply to regions governed by the Inner Line Permit under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873.

Also Read: Single Citizenship: Difference from Dual Citizenship, Benefits, Articles

Who will Benefit from the Citizenship Amendment Act?

The Citizenship Amendment Act will benefit undocumented immigrants belonging to 6 religions from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. The 6 religions are:

  • Hindus
  • Sikhs
  • Buddhists
  • Jains
  • Parsis
  • Christians

Also Read: The Important Acts in India For Competitive Exams | Subject-Wise Notes

What are the Disadvantages of CAA?

Additionally, the Disadvantages of the Citizenship Amendment Act are:

  • Exclusion of Muslim Immigrants: One of the main criticisms of the CAA is that it very evidently excludes Muslim immigrants entirely. 
  • Potential for Discrimination: When combined with the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR), CAA could lead to discrimination against marginalized communities. 
  • Constitutional Concerns: There are concerns regarding the constitutionality of the CAA. As it is not compatible with the Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.
  • Challenges to India’s Secular Identity: The CAA may damage India’s tradition of inclusivity and secularism by linking citizenship with religion.
  • International Criticism: Some foreign governments and human rights organizations are expressing concerns about its impact on religious freedom and minority rights.

Also Read: Preamble of the Indian Constitution

Why is CAA Important?

The CAA has been a subject of much debate in India. Supporters argue it gives refuge to minorities facing religious persecution in neighbouring countries. 

  • They see it as a humanitarian act that aligns with India’s tradition of giving asylum. 
  • However, they think it deals with the odd situation. Wherein some minority groups, who moved because of religious persecution, might be called undocumented immigrants.

On the other hand, opponents of the Citizenship Amendment Act criticize it for overlooking India’s secular principles. 

  • They argue that religion should not be a factor in defining citizenship and that the exclusion of Muslims discriminates against a specific religious group. 
  • Furthermore, there are concerns that it might be used with the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which could take away voting rights from Muslim citizens. 

Thus, the CAA’s importance lies in its substantial impact on Indian society, sparking discussions about citizenship, religious freedom, and national identity.

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