CAA-Polity or Humanity ?

There has been lot of uproar ever since the Citizenship Amendment Bill became Citizenship Amendment Act 2019. This has been rebuffed by the political parties, news agencies, foreign diplomats. However, no specific answer could be had about the furor.

How is Citizenship determined

A person can be Indian Citizen by birth, descent, registration and naturalisation as per Citizenship Act, 1955

  • By birth:
    • Every person born in India after 25.01.50 but before 01.07.1987,
    • Every person born between 01.07.1987 and 02.12.2004, if either of parent was Indian Citizen at the time of birth
    • Every person born after 03.12.2004, if either of parent is Indian Citizen and other is not an illegal migrant.
  • By Descent:
    • A person born outside India after 25.01.1950, if father was a citizen of India by birth.
    • A person born outside India between 10.12.1992, 04.12.2004, if either of his/her parent was a citizen of India by birth.
    • If a person born outside India after 02.12.2004 has to acquire citizenship,
  • By Registration:
    • A person of Indian origin been a resident of India for 7 years
    • A person of Indian origin who is a resident of any country outside undivided India.
    • A person who is married to an Indian citizen and is ordinarily resident for 7 years.
    • Minor children of persons who are citizens of India.
  • By Naturalization:
    • A person can acquire citizenship by naturalization if he/she is ordinarily resident of India for 12 years (throughout 12 months preceding the date of application and 11 years in the aggregate)
  • By Acquisition of Territory (not prescribed)
    • If India acquires a foreign territory, the residents of the territory naturally becomes Citizens of India

Government’s Powers to regulate, define special category under several acts passed from time to time

The Foreigners Act, 1946 (TFA) defines a foreigner as a person who is not a citizen of India. Section 3 gives power to Central Government (CG) to make provisions in respect of a particular foreigner, prescribed class for prohibiting, regulating or restricting the entry of foreigners. Section 3A (b) of TFA, (w.e.f. 19.1.1957) empowers CG to pass an order exempting any individual foreigner or class or description of foreigner.

The Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 (TPEIA) Section 3(2)(a) empowers CG to exempt either absolutely or on any condition, of any person or class of persons rules requiring possession of passports. The rules made under this section should be passed in both Houses of Parliament within 30 days. The section 4 of TPEIA empowers any officer of CG to arrest and under section 5 CG may in general or special order direct the removal of any person without a passport.

The Passport Act, 1967 (TPA) authorises Government to issue travel documents such as (a) emergency certificate for person; (b) certificate of identity of the purpose of establishing the identity of person; (c) or other document as may be prescribed

Amendments in Citizenship Act

The laws are doctrines but need amendment according to the situation. There have been five amendments (1986, 1992, 2003, 2005, 2019) in The Citizenship Act 1955 including the recent one in 2019. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003, was more stringent with regard to illegal migrants from Bangladesh and provided that either parent should not be an illegal migrant.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 provides that any person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, who entered into India on or before the 31.12.2014 shall not be treated as illegal migrant. and that aggregate period of residence shall be reduced to 5 years from 11 years earlier for grant of Citizenship

It is apparent from the provisos, that CAA2019 provides fast track citizenship to the minorities in the three countries adjacent to India. The other communities are still eligible for citizenship through registration and naturalisation process. CAA2019 doesn;t takes away someone’s Citizenship.

Gandhiji’s promise to Hindus and Sikhs remained in Pakistan

Mahatma Gandhi on 07.07.1947 said that Hindus and Sikhs living in Pakistan have a right to come here if they do not want to live there. The GOI is bound to provide them employment, citizenship and comfortable life. Nehru was also of the similar view as those people never demanded partiion, they were the victims of the partition. In his interview, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan told ANI [article published on 21.12.2019]

There is no clear data on Non-Muslim population residing in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Independent Pakistan first carried out their census in 1951 and last one was 1998. The Non-Muslim Population remained in the range of 2-3% as per Pakistan as per their census. Bangladesh population census clearly shows a decline in non-muslims population from 23.2% to 9.6% in 2011.

Amid, the news of forced conversion surface every now and then from Pak and Bangladesh and even a percentile decline in persecuted minorities in these countries makes one to think of the promises our leaders once made, sub-standard life adjudicated and atrocities that are carried to them.

The Government of India shaped an overdue promise in to a Law without disturbing status of Indian Citizens.