The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is a piece of legislation that was passed in India in 2019. The primary objective of the CAA was to grant Indian citizenship to specific religious minorities from neighbouring countries, namely Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians, who had fled persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan before December 2014

Citizenship Amendment Act

The Act drew significant controversy and sparked widespread protests across India. Critics argued that the law was discriminatory because it excluded Muslims and undermined the secular principles enshrined in the Indian Constitution. They also raised concerns about its potential misuse in conjunction with the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) to target and disenfranchise Muslims.

Supporters of the CAA, including the government, defended it as a humanitarian measure aimed at providing refuge to persecuted religious minorities facing persecution in the neighbouring Islamic countries. They emphasized that the Act did not affect the citizenship status of any Indian citizen, regardless of their religion.

Who can apply for citizenship under CAA 2024?

Under the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) of 2019, certain religious minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan are eligible to apply for expedited Indian citizenship if they meet specific criteria. The Act provides a pathway to citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians who arrived in India on or before December 31, 2014, due to religious persecution or fear of persecution in their home countries.

It’s important to note that the CAA applies to individuals who entered India without proper documentation or travel papers, as they may face challenges in proving their legal residency. The Act offers them a chance to regularize their citizenship status by providing evidence of their arrival and religious identity.

Where CAA does not apply

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) of 2019 applies specifically to certain religious minorities from three neighbouring countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. However, it does not apply uniformly to all individuals from these countries. Here are some categories of individuals to whom the CAA does not apply:

  1. Muslims: The CAA explicitly excludes Muslims from its provisions. This exclusion has been a point of contention and criticism, with opponents arguing that it violates the secular principles enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
  2. Other Religious Minorities: The CAA only covers Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians. Individuals from other religious groups, such as atheists or adherents of minority sects not explicitly mentioned, are not eligible for citizenship under the CAA.
  3. Citizens of Countries Outside Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan: The CAA is specifically targeted at individuals from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Citizens of other countries, regardless of their religious background, are not eligible for citizenship under the CAA.
  4. Individuals Arriving After December 31, 2014: The CAA sets a cut-off date of December 31, 2014, for eligibility. Individuals who arrived in India after this date are not covered by the CAA and would need to follow regular citizenship procedures, which may include naturalization or other legal pathways.
  5. Individuals with Criminal Records: Like standard citizenship procedures, individuals with criminal records or involvement in illegal activities may be ineligible for citizenship under the CAA.

How to apply for citizenship under CAA 2024

In general, the process for applying for citizenship under the CAA may involve the following steps, although specific details may be subject to change:

  1. Documentation: Applicants would likely need to gather relevant documentation to support their eligibility under the CAA, including proof of their religious minority status and evidence of their arrival in India before the specified cutoff date.
  2. Application Form: Applicants may be required to fill out an application form specifically designed for citizenship under the CAA. This form would likely include questions about personal information, religious background, and reasons for seeking citizenship under the Act.
  3. Submission of Application: Once the application form is completed, applicants may need to submit it along with supporting documents to the appropriate government authorities. This could involve submission to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO), or other designated offices.
  4. Verification and Processing: Government authorities would likely review the applications and conduct verification processes to confirm the eligibility of applicants under the CAA. This may involve background checks, interviews, or other means of assessment.

Requirement for special documents:

individuals seeking citizenship under the CAA would likely need to provide documentation to support their eligibility.

These documents may include:

  1. Proof of Religious Minority Status: Individuals would likely need to provide documentation demonstrating their membership in one of the specified religious minority groups mentioned in the CAA, such as Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, or Christians.
  2. Evidence of Persecution or Fear of Persecution: Applicants may need to provide documentation or statements detailing their reasons for leaving their country of origin, such as persecution or fear of persecution based on their religious identity.
  3. Proof of Arrival in India Before the Specified Cutoff Date: Since the CAA sets a cutoff date of December 31, 2014, for eligibility, applicants would likely need to provide evidence of their arrival in India before this date. This could include travel documents, residence permits, or other forms of documentation.
  4. Identification Documents: Applicants would need to provide standard identification documents, such as passports, birth certificates, or any other government-issued identification.
  5. Address Proof: Applicants may need to provide proof of their current address in India, such as utility bills or rental agreements.

Written By: Adv Arti Mudgil

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