Recently, Citizenship (Amendment) Act was passed by the Indian Parliament and it
was enacted into law on 12 December, 2019. But this led the country into a wave
of protests against it as it laid down the criteria for who could be granted
citizenship of the country. This protest has spread to almost every corner of
the country but the reasons for the same vary with the geography. Protests have
erupted not only against the passing of this act but also against the creation
of National Register of Citizens (NRC).
On Tuesday, the Union Government also
approved National Population Register (NPR) on 24th December, 2019. It is a
register of usual residents of the country. It is being prepared at the local,
sub- district, district, state and national level under provisions of
Citizenship Act, 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of citizens and issue of
National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003. The objective behind maintaining NPR is to
create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country.
What is CAA?
According to the CAA, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh and Parsi migrants
who have illegally entered India i.e. without visa on or before December 31,
2014 from the Muslim- majority countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh
and also they have stayed in the country for five years are eligible for
applying Indian citizenship.
The reason for extending this provision only to people of six religions and also
the reason of applying only to people coming only from these three Islamic
countries, and not Muslims is that the Union Government claims that people of
these six faiths have faced persecution in these Islamic countries. So it is
India’s moral obligation to provide shelter to them.
Now a question arises that whether this provision opens only to those who have
been persecuted in the three countries?
No, CAA does not mention the term ‘persecution’ anywhere and since ‘persecution’
is not only the criteria, it does discriminate against illegal Muslim immigrants
from these countries.
What is NRC?
As soon as the Citizenship Amendment Bill was passed in both houses of
Parliament and given Presidential assent making it a law, loud murmurs started
about another move- a National Register of Citizens (NRC). So what is exactly is
National Register of Citizens is an official record of those who are legal
Indian citizens. NRC includes all the demographic information of those who
qualify to be the citizens of India as per the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955.
After the 1951 census of India, the register was first prepared and since then
it was not updated. Such a database has only been maintained for the state of
Assam. However, on November 20, Home Minister of India Amit Shah declared that
it would extend to the entire country during a parliamentary session.
implementation of NRC in Assam, there has been a growing demand for the
worldwide implementation. So, it effectively suggests bringing about legislation
for those who have been living in India illegally by enabling the government to
identify infiltrators, detain and depot them to the places they have come.
Who is a citizen of India as per Indian Citizenship Act, 1955?
As per the Citizenship Act, 1955, every person born in India:
- on or after the 26th day of January 1950, but before the 1st day of July
- on or after the 1st day of July 1987, but before the commencement of the
Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003 and either of whose parents is a citizen
of India at the time of his birth;
- on or after the commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003,
(i) both of his parents are citizens of India; or
(ii) one of whose parents is a citizen of India and the other is not an illegal
migrant at the time of his birth, shall be a citizen of India by birth.
Will the implementation of NRC unconstitutional and against India’s secular
ethos discriminatory on religious lines?
Sixty- five writ petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court that challenges
legal validity of CAA. Subhash Kashyap who is a constitutional expert said
that there are arguments both in favor of and against the act. According to
Article 14 of the Indian Constitution which states that all persons are entitled
to equality but there are plethora of judgments of Supreme Court which pronounce
that reasonable classification can be applied to the principle of equality.
According to him. Anyone can challenge the act in the Apex Court and the future
of the act will depend on whether the Supreme Court accepts the classification
made within this act as reasonable enough.
How is NRC related to CAA?
The proposal of worldwide implementation which is still a proposal, if
implemented will lead to targeting of illegal immigrants in India. This
essentially means that all those illegal immigrants who have come from countries
other than Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh will be affected by the
implementation of worldwide NRC. But there is a fear that Indian Muslims will be
deemed to be illegal immigrants if they fail to furnish adequate proof of
citizenship as they won’t be included in the CAA.
Union home minister Amit Shah has said he will frame a nationwide NRC by 2024 to
detect illegal migrants. On December 22, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his
government had never said anything about an NRC except in Assam.
Union Law Minister has said, NRC hasn’t been finalized yet
and there is no
question of joining of CAA with NRC as the draft is yet to be completed.
Written By: Shubham Mongia
, Advocate - BBA. LL.B (Hons.)