The Citizenship (Amendment) bill, 2019 was passed by the Parliament of India
on 11th December 2019, and after receiving the assent from the President of
India on 12th December 2019, the bill assumed the status of an act.
As soon as the bill was passed in the Parliament, it brought along with it a
situation of major unrest and protests in the Northern Part of the country and
in the North eastern state of Assam. Though the reasons in both these parts were
different, but what was similar was the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
Briefly, the Amendment now grants Citizenship to illegal immigrants who had
entered India before or on the 31st of December 2014 of the following religions,
Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian, from Pakistan, Bangladesh and
The Criteria set by the government here was that religious minorities who faced
persecution in Islamic countries should be provided shelter, and which is why
illegal immigrants from the 3 Islamic Countries are now provided Indian
In the History of our Country's Law and Statutes, the Citizenship (Amendment)
Act, 2019 is the first one which Discriminates on the basis of Religion.
“Muslims” are mentioned nowhere, and they are not considered as minorities by
the government in the current situation as the three countries from where
illegal immigrants are being granted Indian Citizenship are Islamic Countries
according to their Constitution, and the government claims that how can Muslims
be minorities in an Islamic Country.
The implementation of the CAA led to various consequences across the whole
Country. Due to the outbreak of the Pandemic Covid-19, the situation in the
Country came under control. But will the Act lead to more complications and
violence once we come out of the Pandemic?
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 acted as fuel to the fire in the tensions
between the Hindu and Muslim communities of India. CAA came out to be the first
ever act which discriminated people on the basis of religion, which was not
welcomed warmly by the Opposition Parties, and also by the Muslim population in
our country. It also consisted of people who consider themselves as Secular and
believe in secularism.
The word Secular was added in our Preamble by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment.
This meant that India has no official religion and that it separates the power
of the state from religion. Each and every person of the country has the right
to profess, practice and propagate the religion of their own choice. But the
question now being raised is; that is India truly a secular state?
Intellectuals are also raising their voice as they say that the Act violates the
fundamental right of equality.
Article 14 of the Indian Constitution says that
everyone should be treated equally irrespective of their religion, race, caste,
sex or place of birth. But the Act here does not include Muslims and are totally
silent about them.
Does the CAA violate Article 14 of the Indian Constitution?
As soon as the bill was introduced in the parliament, the northeastern state of
Assam reacted in a very volatile manner which was considered as Riots by the
police and the government. The Northern part of the country also started with
peaceful protests opposing the bill which eventually became an act. But the
question that comes up is, whether the protests were actually peaceful? Whether
the reasons for protest in the northeastern state and the rest of the country
The Act has been criticized extensively throughout India and also by Foreign
Officials. But everything has 2 sides or stories to it. The government claims
that it's not violating any of the existing laws in the country and that they
now plan to implement NRC (National Register of Citizens) in the whole Country.
NRC would keep a count on the actual citizens of the country, and those not
included in the NRC would be considered as Illegal Immigrants. This declaration
by the Home Minister, regarding NRC, made the Muslim community think that the
current government is trying to do away with the Muslims of India. NRC again was
like a fuel to the ongoing fire.
Understanding the Amendment Act
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was discussed by the Union Cabinet and was
eventually cleared for introduction on 4th December 2019 in the Lower House of
the Parliament, which is the Lok Sabha. After which, on 9th of December the Home
Minister (Amit Shah) introduced the bill in Lok Sabha. The bill got passed in
the Lok Sabha on the 10thof December with 311 votes in favour of the bill and
only 80 against it. It was pretty obvious that the bill would pass, as the
current government has a full majority in the lower house. Which is why the
protests had already begun in Assam even before the bill was introduced.
Eventually the bill also passed in the upper house with a majority vote of 125
and 105 against. The bill then got the assent of the President and it assumed
the status of an act. Within a time period of 4 days, the bill was introduced
and it became an Act. Further the Act came into force on 10th of January, 2020
after a notification which was provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The act along with it brought few major changes in the process of providing
citizenship to illegal immigrants.
The various sections that were amended are as
- Section 2
- Insertion of a new section 6B
- Section 7D
- And the Third Schedule
The amendments were as follows:
- The following provision is inserted in Section 2(1)(b):
Provided 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 31st day of December, 2014 and who has been exempted by
the Central Government by or under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of
the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 or from the application of the
provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 or any rule or order made there under,
shall not be treated as illegal migrant for the purposes of this Act;". [i]
- After section 6A of the principle act, the following section is
- 6B. (1) The Central Government or an authority specified by it in this
behalf may, subject to such conditions, restrictions and manner as may be
prescribed, on an application made in this behalf, grant a certificate of
registration or certificate of naturalisation to a person referred to in the proviso to clause
(b) of sub-section (1) of section 2.
- Subject to fulfilment of the conditions specified in section 5 or the
qualifications for naturalisation under the provisions of the Third Schedule, a
person granted the certificate of registration or certificate of naturalisation
under sub-section (1) shall be deemed to be a citizen of India from the date of
his entry into India.
- On and from the date of commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act,
2019, any proceeding pending against a person under this section in respect
of illegal migration or citizenship shall stand abated on conferment of
citizenship to him:
Provided that such person shall not be disqualified for making application for
citizenship under this section on the ground that the proceeding is pending
against him and the Central Government or authority specified by it in this
behalf shall not reject his application on that ground if he is otherwise found
qualified for grant of citizenship under this section:
Provided further that the person who makes the application for citizenship under
this section shall not be deprived of his rights and privileges to which he was
entitled on the date of receipt of his application on the ground of making such
- Nothing in this section shall apply to tribal area of Assam, Meghalaya,
Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the
area covered under "The Inner Line" notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier
- After section 7D(i)(d), the following has been inserted:
(da) the Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder has violated any of the
provisions of this Act or provisions of any other law for time being in force as
may be specified by the Central Government in the notification published in the
Official Gazette; or";
(ii) After clause (f), the following proviso has been inserted:-
"Provided that no order under this section shall be passed unless the Overseas
Citizen of India Cardholder has been given a reasonable opportunity of being
- In the Third Schedule of the principal Act, in clause (d), the following
proviso has been inserted:
'Provided that for the person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or
Christian community in Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, the aggregate period
Residence or service of Government in India as required under this clause shall
Read as "not less than five years" in place of "not less than eleven
So basically the amendment act says that people belonging to Hindu, Sikh,
Buddhist, Jain, Parsi orChristian community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or
Pakistan, who have entered into India on or before the 31st day of December,
2014 will no longer be considered as illegal immigrants. All such people would
be granted a certificate of naturalisation or would be granted Indian
Citizenship. Further to make it even easier to provide these people citizenship,
the amendment act now requires a minimum of 5 years of residence or service of
government in India by such immigrants, which was 11 years earlier.
The act seeks to provide shelter to people who are facing religious persecution
in Islamic countries which are adjoining to the Indian boarders, which is why
the act only talks about Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. But is it really
true that Muslims do not face persecutions in an Islamic country?
Why Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh
The Amendment that has been made only benefits the non-Muslims of these 3
particular Countries and is silent about the others. What actually makes the
government to differentiate and to not include the other countries? Adjoining to
the Indian boarders are various other countries like, Bhutan, Nepal, China, and
Sri Lanka. But the amendment mentions about none of these countries.
The government believes that these 3 countries, particularly, are Islamic
Countries and are not secular. These countries have an official Religion of
their own which is Islam. So it's very likely that the non-Muslim population
which is living there faces a lot of religious persecution and might also face
discrimination. The government also believes that there is no other country that
has an official religion of its own, be it Christianity, Hinduism, Jainism,
Sikhism or any religion for that matter.
India being a secular country respects all religion, and that is why the
government is welcoming the immigrants from these Islamic countries to India.
But is the act really a secular one? Because the Muslims are not included in it!
The government here argues that these three countries being Islamic Countries,
it is very unlikely that the Muslim population over there would have to face
religious persecutions. This is why Muslims aren't mentioned in the act.
So apparently the main motive of the government is to protect the minorities of
various other religions who were stuck in the Islamic state and are now living
What made the people to protest against the Amendment
Part III of the Indian Constitution deals with the Fundamental Rights. These
fundamental rights are the supreme rights that the people in India enjoy. If any
of the fundamental right is violated, then that particular person has absolute
right to move directly to the Supreme Court of India or the High court. With the
help of article 32 the person can seek remedy in the Supreme Court and with the
help of article 226 the High court can be approached.
One of the most important fundamental rights provided by the Constitution is the
Right to Equality. Article 14 of the Indian Constitution states that -“The State
shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of
the laws within the territory of India.”[v]
The article states “no person.” This means that it's not necessary that a person
should be an Indian citizen to enjoy the fundamental right of equality in India.
Majority of the people started opposing the bill which now has become an Act.
Questions were raised that why aren't Muslim immigrants being given citizenship
by the amendment. There are various Muslims also who face religious
persecutions, like the Ahmedia Muslim sect, Shias, Rohingya Muslims etc. Why are
these Muslim minorities being neglected by the government, and why is the
government discriminating people and violating the fundamental right of
equality. The government had no reply to this.
Another thing which led to large scale protests in the country was the statement
given by the Home Minister Amit Shah. He stated that:
“First we will pass the
Citizenship Amendment bill and ensure that all the refugees from the neighbouring nations get the Indian citizenship. After that NRC will be made and
we will detect and deport every infiltrator from our motherland.” This made the
Muslim community and various other people in India infuriated.
The Muslim community in India started to think that this move by the centre is
to remove all the Muslims in India and make India a Hindu Rashtra
. What led
the Muslims in India to think in such a way? After CAA came into force, all
religious minorities from the three countries get Indian Citizenship, except the
Muslims. So now if NRC is implemented all over India, every citizen would have
to prove their identity and also they would have to prove that they are legal
citizens of India.
Those who fail to prove their identity would be considered as
illegal immigrants. Now those belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or
Christian community would get back their citizenship through CAA if they turn
out to be illegal immigrants by not proving their citizenship. But the Muslims
in India who are not able to prove their identity and are considered as illegal
immigrants would stay as illegal immigrants and would never get back their
Indian citizenship and would end up being homeless and stateless.
This majorly led to large scale protests by the Muslim community in India and
they were supported by other people of the country too. While various cities in
the country were protesting, New Delhi's Shaheen Bagh had become the main hub
for the protesters. Various educational institutions were also protesting, like
Jamia Milia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University etc.
Protests in the North-Eastern State of Assam
While the whole country was protesting for equality and Muslim rights, Assam had
a whole different reason to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill,
which is now an Act. Assam began its protest as soon as the bill was discussed
by the union cabinet and was not even introduced in the parliament.
To know the main reason behind the protests in Assam, we have to know about the
Political history related to the State and the north-eastern region.
During the partition of India, the north-eastern part of India was under great
turmoil. The region of north east India was going to be put under the region of
East Pakistan. But the north eastern states wanted to be in the Indian
Territory. Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi an Indian independence activist then
approached the national leaders and convinced them that the north-eastern region
wants to and deserves to stay within the Indian boarders. Eventually this was
agreed and the northeast remained as a part of India.
While the partition was
taking place, a lot of people started to migrate into the north east region and
started living there. Eventually they were considered as legal citizen of the
country. Majority of these migrants were Bengali speaking Hindus and Bengali
Muslims. This was the first wave when the north eastern land was occupied by
people other than those who were originally north eastern.
The second wave came after the Bangladeshi liberation war in 1971. When East
Pakistan got its independence and Bangladesh was formed, many people again
started to migrate due to the war. These migrants largely occupied the
north-eastern region and west Bengal as these two regions were along with the
This sudden and on-going influx from Bangladesh started to
impact the socio-economic and the ethnic diversity of the north eastern region.
It led to insecurity in the original inhabitants and they felt that their rights
as the indigenous population had been encroached upon. This led to the Assam
The Assam movement was being headed by the All Assam Students Union. Their main
call was to get the region rid of the infiltrators. They had no religious
biases; they just wanted the Bangladeshis who had entered the state illegally to
be removed from their land.
From 1979 to 1985 Assam had a 6 year long agitation, which was primarily led by
the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) and All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP),
to fight against the immigrants.
By the 2000s the Indian National Congress had gained power in Assam. But the
government didn't do much to protect the land from Bangladeshi immigrants. More
over the immigrations increased and the INC started to use these immigrants as
their vote banks.
People started losing hope in INC which was led by Tarun Gogoi. The people of
Assam had started to find an alternative, and in 2016 they found hope in the BJP
government. BJP had now won 60 seats in Assam which is a huge number compared to
the previous election in which they got only 5 seats.
The indigenous population of Assam now saw a hope of ray that the infiltrators
would be removed. They were expecting implementation of the policy to detect,
delete and deport the illegal migrants from Bangladesh. This is why the people
of Assam also supported the NRC (National Register of Citizens) process, as they
thought the illegal immigrants would now be removed.
But ultimately, in 2019, when the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was introduced,
the people of Assam felt extremely betrayed by the BJP government.
taken as an insult by the North-Eastern people as this can result in the failure
of all central theme of the Assam Movement. The Assamese had nothing to do with
the religion, if Muslims are included or not. They just wanted that no illegal
immigrant from Bangladesh should enter their land.
They feel that if immigrants
keep coming in from Bangladesh, and the government keeps providing them
citizenship, then one day the original Assamese people in Assam will become a
minority group and the state would be full of Bengali speaking Hindus.
The protest against the CAB/A in the Northeast was not against any political
fundamentalism, neither it was against or for any language speakers or religion
in particular. It was for the protection of the rights of the people of the
state. It is for the promise that was made to the people of the region by the
central government. It is for the democratic right of the people to have a
distinct culture and tradition of their own.
Relationship Between CAA and NRC
The term NRC (National Register of Citizens) was initially coined in the year
1951 by the government. At that time, the Indian national congress was in power.
In 1951 the government had implemented the NRC in Assam on the basis of the 1951
Census. But the register was never maintained thereafter.
The National Register of Citizens is a document which contains the legal
citizens of the country. Those who are not included in the NRC are considered as
illegal immigrants. Such illegal immigrants would be kept in detention centers
and would eventually be deported from the country.
After the failed attempt in 1951, finally the NRC got updated for Assam, and was
published on 31 August 2019. Around 1.9 million people were considered as
illegal immigrants in Assam through this NRC.
Further the Bhartiya Janta Party had promised to implement the NRC for all of
India in its election manifesto in the 2019 Indian general election. After
coming into power, the Home Minister, Amit Shah, on 19th of November 2019,
declared in the Rajya Sabha that NRC would be implemented throughout the
country. This did not grab the attention of the people until the Citizenship
(Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in the Lok Sabha.
As soon as the bill was introduced, the people of India started to criticize
this step that was taken by the government.
- Firstly, the people in Assam felt betrayed as on one hand the government
had implemented the NRC in Assam to remove illegal immigrants from
Bangladesh, but on the other hand the government brought the Citizenship
(Amendment) Bill which would now provide immigrants with Indian Citizenship
from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
- Secondly, the Muslim community in India started to feel that the
government wants to remove all the Muslims from the country by first
implementing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and then the NRC. Because
Muslims who won't be able to prove their identity through NRC, would become illegal
immigrants under the CAA.
This shows how the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and National Register of Citizens
are related. As the prior one grants citizenship to religious minorities (except
Muslims) from Islamic countries, the latter one keeps a track of the legal
citizens and eventually deports the ones who are not a part of the register and
are hence considered as illegal immigrants. The only community that does not
benefit from this combination is the Muslims. As once they are considered as
illegal immigrants, they'll be left stateless and there's no way for them to get
back their Indian citizenship.
Understanding the Series of Events
Since the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was discussed upon, things in the
country started to become ugly.
Here is a brief chronology of the series of events related to the Act.
Large scale protests were being carried out in the country against the CAA.
- 4th December - The Union Cabinet had approved the bill to be introduced
in the parliament.
- 9th December - The bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha.
- 10th December - The bill passed in the Lok Sabha with a majority vote of
311 and only 80 in against.
- 11th December - The bill was now presented in the Rajya Sabha and it got
passed the same day with 125 votes in favour of the bill.
- 12th December - On this date the bill got the assent of the President
and had now become and Act.
- 13th December - Various countries like UK, USA, France, Canada etc had
issued travel warning to their citizens who were travelling to the
north-east India. Because the protest were turning out to be violent over
- 14th December - People in New Delhi came out to protest against the Act.
The protest was being held in Jantar Mantar.
- 15th December - Protests in the area of Shaheen Bagh in New Delhi had
begun. Things had turned out to become very violent and the protests were no
more peaceful. DTC buses in Delhi were burnt up. Students of Jamia and Aligarh
Muslim University came out to protest. The police authorities had entered the
educational institution without any warrant and they stared to detain the
students. Many students were also injured.
- 18th December - The Supreme Court held a hearing for the 60 petitions
that were brought in front challenging the Act. After the first hearing, the
Supreme Court had declined the stay against the Act and a new date of
hearing was given which was 22nd of January.
- 19th December - The protests started to spread throughout the country.
As things were now out of control for the government and the police authorities,
the government started to suspend the internet in various regions where the
protests were taking place.
- 10th January - The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 came into force.
- 14th January - The Kerala Government moved to the Supreme Court to
challenge the CAA under Article 131. Kerala became the first government to do
so. It stated that the Act violates Article 14, Article 21 and Article 25 of the
Indian constitution, which guarantees basic principles such as equality before
the law, protection of life and personal liberty and freedom of conscience and
free profession, practice, and propagation of religion.
- 22nd January - The petitions were again heard in the Supreme Court by a
bench of 3 Judges which was headed by Justice Bobde. Notice was given to the
government to reply in reference to the petitions filed within a time period of
1 month. Further the court held that the issue in the northeast is different
from the rest and a different hearing would be set up for that.
While all of this was going on, many students, protesters and also police
officers lost their lives because of the protests taking place in the country.
The Act and the government, both were being condemned by various other countries
and also by the UN for violation of human rights.
- Ultimately on 24th March 2020, the two month long protest in Shaheen
Bagh, New Delhi, came to an end due to the outbreak of the Pandemic, Corona
But people in the country are still not in support of the Act, and it is very
likely that as soon as the Pandemic gets over, people will come out again and
will protest against the Act.
Understanding of the topic and Suggestions
- The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill became an Act on 12th of December 2019.
- The act discriminated on the basis of religion.
- People believed that the Act violates the Fundamental Rights of
Equality, Life and Religion. Articles 14, 21 and 25 respectively. But these
rights can be restricted by reasonable restrictions under the provisions of
law. But was excluding Muslims within the scope?
- Another right that the people in our country have is the right to
protest peacefully. But does this mean that your right to protest peacefully
can hamper the right to life and freedom of others? Every citizen has equal
rights and each person has the right to enjoy it. But not at the cost of
hammering others fundamental or even constitutional rights.
- The protesters of the Act have a fight against the government and not
against other citizens of the country. Then why do other people have to
suffer because of the protesters.
- The protesters have been blocking roads, burning down buses etc, due to
which other citizens have to face a lot of difficulties. In Delhi alone, N
numbers of roads were closed or were diverted because of the protesters,
which caused a lot of inconvenience.
- Peaceful protests can easily be taken place in various places were other
citizens won't be affected. But what is the point to protest for your rights
while hampering the rights of the other people.
- The Protest had initially started because of the Citizenship (Amendment)
Bill. But eventually it turned out that now people are protesting against
the NRC. But where is NRC? The home Minister claimed that the NRC would be
implemented, but after that the Prime Minister denied it. Then why are
people protesting against something that actually does not exist.
- NRC in the first place should not be implemented throughout the country.
It can be implemented in the states which are on the boarders of the country
to protect the indigenous people of that state.
- Rather than violating the laws, people must have faith in the judiciary
and must proceed with things in a lawful manner.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 came out to be a very controversial one.
On one hand where it is benefiting the religious minorities from the 3 Islamic
countries, on the other it is violating the right to equality and is
discriminating people on the basis of their religion.
The step taken by the government is no doubt a good one, but the implementation
is questionable. As immigrants, irrespective of their religion, who come from
Bangladesh into Assam will not only endanger the indigenous population of Assam
and other north eastern states, but it will also be against the sixth schedule
of the Indian Constitution and also against the Assam Accord. However the sixth
schedule only protects some districts of the North east, but it is necessary to
protect all the indigenous people in the north eastern state and not just a few.
NRC is a bigger threat for the peace of the country compared to the CAA, because
protests in the rest of the country, except the north east, were mainly related
to the implementation of NRC in the whole country. The combination of both CAA
and NRC would eventually leave the Muslim population of India stateless.
Things might turn out to become even uglier after the Pandemic ends. The
government must now try to work out strategies to handle further protests that
might take place in the country. The strategies must be within the scope of law
and should not violate human rights.
- The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019
- The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019
- The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019
- The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019
- Article 14: The Constitution of India