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Balancing Borders And Belongings: A Comprehensive Review Of The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) of India is thoroughly examined in this document, including its history, characteristics, motivations, legal structure, passage, and effects. The context is established by detailing the history of the CAA and its contentious exclusion of Muslims.

The necessity of the CAA is then discussed, emphasizing the government's intention to provide a route to citizenship for religious minorities subject to repression in nearby nations. The work emphasizes how the Act violates equality standards as it highlights the constitutional power and limitations on the Indian Parliament's ability to pass legislation on citizenship issues.

The steps in the legislative process, the presidential approval process, and irregularities in the passage of the CAA are all described. After noting concerns about discrimination, the article addresses how the Act affects various stakeholders, including religious minorities, Indian citizens, and illegal immigrants.

It also questions whether the CAA's processes and procedures are practical, bringing up concerns like the burden on applicants and the consequences of statelessness. The CAA's alternatives are also suggested, with an emphasis on inclusivity, the simplification of citizenship regulations, and all-encompassing immigration tactics. The research emphasizes the intricate interplay of legal, social, and human rights issues surrounding the CAA in the end.

The Citizenship Act, 1955, granted citizenship to everyone born in India, subject to some restrictions. The Indian Parliament passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) on December 11, 2019. For religious minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan who arrived in India before the end of December 2014 and who identify as Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, or Christians, the Citizenship Act, 1955 was amended.

The law forbids Muslims from these nations from having this eligibility. The amendment has come under fire for being religiously discriminatory, particularly for excluding Muslims.

Features Of The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019
  • The Indian Citizenship Act of 1955 prohibited illegal migrants from obtaining citizenship. Bill only allowed migrants of six religions: Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, Christians, and Afghans.
  • The legislation expressly stated that people who emigrated owing to religious persecution or fear of persecution from neighbouring countries Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh would be covered in this bill.
  • The legislation also reduced the naturalisation period for all members of the six minority religious groups from 11 to 5 years. The cutoff date for applying for citizenship was December 31, 2014.
  • Amendments were also made for OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) holders, allowing a foreigner to register for OCI if their spouse is of Indian heritage or if they are of Indian descent. OCI cardholders will also have certain perks, like as the ability to work and study in the nation.
  • According to the Act, these individuals will be treated as Indian citizens as of the date of their entry and any legal actions taken against them in connection with their illegal migration or citizenship will be dropped.
  • The Act will not apply to tribal territories such as Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram, and Assam, as well as places notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act, 1873.

Need Recognizing Due To Which The Act Was Passed
The Indian Parliament passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 to give certain religious minorities from nearby nations who entered India before December 31, 2014, due to religious persecution, a route to citizenship. According to the government, the CAA was required to help religious minorities who had fled persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan and sought refuge in India.

These groups included Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians. For eligible immigrants from nearby nations who were previously ineligible for Indian citizenship due to their religion, the CAA was made to offer a quick route to citizenship. To address the plight of religious minorities who have experienced persecution in their home countries, the government thought that the Act was necessary.

The Power And Restrictions Of The Parliament Of India To Make Laws On The Matters Of Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019
The Constitution of India, Part II, Articles 5 to 11, governs citizenship. According to Article 11 of the Indian Constitution, the Parliament of India has the authority to enact laws about citizenship. As a result, the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) of 2019 could have been passed by the relevant legislature, which in this case was the Indian Parliament.

The Indian Parliament is authorised to make any provisions regarding the acquisition, or termination of citizenship, as well as any other citizenship-related matter. There were certain restrictions placed on the Parliament of India while making laws related to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 by various provisions of the Constitution and other laws.

The principle of equality before the law, which is protected by Article 14 of the Constitution, cannot be violated by any laws passed by the Parliament. Parliament cannot make any citizenship law that infringes on the authority of the state governments without receiving their approval as it challenges the federal structure of government.

The Act violated several of the specific restrictions that apply to the Parliament while making citizenship laws. The Act granted citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, but excluded Muslims. This was discriminatory based on religion and contrary to the principle of equality before the law enshrined in the Indian Constitution. Therefore, the Act violated Article 14 of the Constitution and gave the executive branch unrestricted discretionary power to grant citizenship.

Procedure Of Passing The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019
Citizenship laws are first drafted by governments or members of parliament. The bill is then submitted to the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha of the Indian Parliament. The bill then passes its first reading, and lawmakers debate and discuss the proposed changes. The bill is then referred to parliamentary committees for further consideration and deliberation. The bill is sent back to Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha for a second reading.

This includes further discussion of the bill and proposed changes. After the second reading, the bill proceeds to its third reading, where members of parliament vote on the bill. If the bill is passed by a majority, it will move on to the next stage. The final step in passing the law is to seek approval from the President of India. Once approved by the President, the bill becomes an act of Congress and becomes law.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) was presented by the government in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian Parliament, on December 9, 2019. The Lok Sabha discussed and approved the bill. On December 11, 2019, the bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha, the Indian Parliament's upper house.

After a contentious debate, the Rajya Sabha approved the bill on December 11, 2019. On December 12, 2019, the bill received the presidential assent and became law. The prescribed manner was followed to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
  • CAA, 2019 was not subjected to adequate public consultation.
  • It was alleged that the bill was not referred to a committee of the parliament for review, as is customary. Additionally, some claimed that the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha did not properly debate and discuss the bill before it was passed.
  • The CAA violated the fundamental tenets of the Indian Constitution, including non-discrimination, equality before the law, and secularism.
  • The CAA offered a route to citizenship for refugees who arrived in India from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh citing religious persecution, but it excludes Muslims, which some claim is discriminatory and goes against the secularism principles.

The Effect Of Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 On Intended And Unintended Stakeholders
The right-based analysis of the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019 that affected both intended and unintended stakeholders are:
  • Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan:
    • The CAA 2019 intended to grant citizenship to these religious minorities who had fled these three countries due to religious persecution. If they entered India before December 31, 2014, the Act permitted them to apply for citizenship. For this reason, the CAA 2019 was a good development for the intended stakeholder group because it gave them a way to become Indian citizens and better protection for their human rights.
  • Muslim minority and other communities in India:
    • Muslim refugees were not covered by the CAA 2019's provisions, which sparked accusations of discrimination and a breach of the rule of law.
  • Indian citizens:
    • Indian citizens were also stakeholders in the CAA 2019 because it affected their nation's social structure and identity.
  • Illegal immigrants:
    • Illegal immigrants were also stakeholders of CAA 2019 because it affected their chances of obtaining Indian citizenship.

Practicality Of The Processes And Procedures Of The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) 2019's processes and procedures have been considered cumbersome and problematic.

The following are a few of the major problems with the processes and procedures:
  1. According to the CAA 2019, it is the applicant's responsibility to substantiate their citizenship eligibility which had put a heavy burden on the applicants.
  2. Due to the anticipated volume of applications, the CAA 2019 had a limited timeframe for processing citizenship applications whose deadline was challenging to meet.
  3. There are several areas in the CAA 2019 where there is a lack of clarity, including the definitions of terms like "persecuted minorities" and "religious persecution."
  4. The risk of statelessness for those who do not meet the requirements for citizenship under the CAA 2019 was another issue which highlighted the impracticality of the Act.
Although the procedures and processes established by the CAA are meant to improve the ability of the legislation to achieve its goals, there have been significant worries about its drawbacks. Muslims were excluded from the act's provisions which led to demonstrations and legal challenges, which have made the act's implementation even more challenging. Thus, the procedures and processes established by the CAA, in 2019 hindered its ability to achieve its objectives.

The Impact Of The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019
The CAA Act sparked huge protests across the country. While one community appreciated the move, the other community widely condemned and criticised it. Once again, the country was divided due to religious differences. The divide between Muslim and non-Muslim communities was triggered by this Act. After the Bill was enacted, the entire country was in uproar.

The Bill was denounced globally, not just in India. Protests were even seen in nations like Washington and North America, as Indian protestors rushed the streets to express their opposition to the Bill. The government's reaction to the protests astounded the country. During the deadly North East Delhi riots, seven individuals were killed and over 200 were injured. Furthermore, at least 27 people are thought to have been killed as a result of the current violent riots in Uttar Pradesh and Kanpur.

The demonstration in the famed Muslim neighbourhood of Shaheen Bagh turned out to be the epicentre of the anti-CAA movement. Following the passage of the Act in 2019, violent demonstrations erupted in Assam. During the protests in the state of Assam, nearly five individuals were found dead. The COVID-19 outbreak put an end to these protests.

Despite the pandemic, the crackdown on activists persisted. Protesters and students have been arrested and detained regularly by police. Many young people activists were arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967, which is well-known for its stringent bail terms.

The UNHCR has extensively criticised these arrests and has explicitly stated that by detaining activists and students, the Indian government is just taking away their right to speak out against the discriminatory bill.

Better Alternative Methods To Attain Similar Objectives As That Of The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019
There are certainly other methods that could potentially achieve similar objectives as CAA, 2019 through some other better methods. A more inclusive and all-encompassing refugee policy that does not discriminate based on religion might be one alternative strategy.

The strategy would be more in line with both India's constitutional commitment to secularism and international human rights standards. Another option would be to update India's current citizenship laws to simplify and increase accessibility of the citizenship application process.

This might entail streamlining citizenship requirements and removing administrative roadblocks that currently make it challenging for many people to become citizens. A comprehensive immigration and asylum strategy can be formed as opposed to singling out particular religious groups for preferential treatment. Regardless of their faith or origin, those who are being persecuted, violently attacked, or whose lives are in danger should receive priority under this policy.

This strategy would be more in line with global human rights norms. In the end, a variety of factors, such as political will, financial resources, and the willingness of various stakeholders to cooperate towards a common goal, would determine the effectiveness of any alternative method.

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Ayushi Malik
Awarded certificate of Excellence
Authentication No: NV49457750577-27-1123

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