Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019

Yesterday, the citizenship amendment bill 2019 was passed in Lok Sabha. The bill was approved by 311 votes in the Parliament while 80 MPs voted against the bill. This bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act 1955. As per the bill, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, Jains and Christians who migrated to India without travel documents from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan on or before December 31, 2014, will not be regarded as illegal migrants. This is proposed to be done by inserting a new proviso to Section 2(1) (b) of the Citizenship Act 1955.

It is passed to protect and to ease the process of acquiring citizenship by naturalization for non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. It is believed that these groups of people are being persecuted in their country and therefore should be given the citizenship of India.

As per the existing law, a person should be a resident in India for at least 12 months immediately before the date of the application. Adding to this, the person should be living in India for at least 11 years out of 14 years preceding the said period of 12 months. However, as per the latest amendment bill the relaxation has been given to non-Muslims to be migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan eligible for citizenship for naturalization to be in India for 6 years instead of existing 11 years.

Another important point about this Bill is that is shall not apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura mentioned in the sixth schedule of the Indian Constitution. It shall also not apply to Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland as these are protected by the Inner Line Permit. As per the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act, 1873, citizens of other states require ILP to visit these three States.

While passing the Bill, different arguments were in favor and some were against the passing of the Bill. Opposition parties said that this is a violation of Article 14 of the Constitution, which states the right to equality. Moreover, they also pointed out that the Muslim community is being targeted to leave India.