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Protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019

  • IASbaba
  • December 18, 2019
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UPSC Articles
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POLITY

TOPIC: General Studies II

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th December 2019

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th December 2019

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Context:

  • Protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act at Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi and Aligarh Muslim University, followed by violent clash between students and police, have had a ripple effect across the country.

Background

Acquiring Indian citizenship:

  • According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, there are four ways in which Indian citizenship can be acquired: birth, descent, registration and naturalisation. 
  • The provisions are listed under Citizenship Act, 1955.

By birth:

  1. Every person born in India on or after 26.01.1950 but before 01.07.1987 is an Indian citizen irrespective of the nationality of his/her parents.
  2. Every person born in India between 01.07.1987 and 02.12.2004 is a citizen of India given either of his/her parents is a citizen of the country at the time of his/her birth.
  3.  Every person born in India on or after 3.12.2004 is a citizen of the country given both his/her parents are Indians or at least one parent is a citizen and the other is not an illegal migrant at the time of birth.

By registration with conditions:

  1. A person of Indian origin who has been a resident of India for 7 years before applying for registration.
  2. A person of Indian origin who is a resident of any country outside undivided India.
  3. A person who is married to an Indian citizen and is ordinarily resident for 7 years before applying for registration.
  4. Minor children of persons who are citizens of India.

By descent:

  1. A person born outside India on or after January 26, 1950 is a citizen of India by descent if his/her father was a citizen of India by birth.
  2. A person born outside India on or after December 10, 1992, but before December 3, 2004 if either of his/her parent was a citizen of India by birth.
  3. If a person born outside India or or after December 3, 2004 has to acquire citizenship, his/her parents have to declare that the minor does not hold the passport of another country and his/her birth is registered at an Indian consulate within one year of birth.

By naturalisation:

  • A person can acquire citizenship by naturalisation if he/she is ordinarily resident of India for 12 years (throughout 12 months preceding the date of application and 11 years in the aggregate)  and fulfils all qualifications in the third schedule of the Citizenship Act.

Dual citizenship:

  • The amended Citizenship Act of 1955 does not provide for dual citizenship or dual nationality. 
  • Any citizen of India, who by registration, naturalisation or otherwise voluntarily takes the citizenship of another country, shall upon such acquisition cease to be a citizen of India. 
  • Cases of termination or cessation of citizenship will be determined ultimately by courts of law.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019:

  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill or CAB, which grants Indian citizenship to the non-Muslims of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh(Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhist, Jains and Parsis)
  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill proposes to grant citizenship to the non-Muslims Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhist, Jains and Parsis — from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who arrived in India before December 31, 2014.
  • CAB paves way for Indian citizenship to lakhs of immigrants, who identify themselves with any of the given religions, even if they lacked any document to prove their residency. It also means that any immigrant who does not belong to the said communities would not be eligible for Indian citizenship
  • Any illegal immigrant from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who belongs to these said communities will not be deported or imprisoned if they are not carrying any valid documents for their residency in India
  • The duration of the immigrants’ residency was 11 years. The amended bill has reduced it to five years. This means that immigrants from the three countries and from the mentioned religions, who have entered India before December 31, 2014, would not be treated as illegal immigrants.

Exemptions:

  • Bill exempts certain areas in the North-East from this provision tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura as included in Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and the area covered under the Inner Limit notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.(Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram along with almost whole of Meghalaya and parts of Assam and Tripura)

The Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cardholders:

  • As per the citizenship bill, a foreigner may register as an OCI under the 1955 Act if they are of Indian origin (e.g., former citizen of India or their descendants) or the spouse of a person of Indian origin.
  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill entitles the OCI cardholders to benefits such as the right to travel to India, and to work and study in the country. The Citizenship Bill, which was passed in the Rajya Sabha, amends the Act to allow cancellation of OCI registration if the person has violated any law notified by the Central government.

Concerns :

  • Lack of inclusion of several non-Muslim countries around India, such as Sri Lanka,concern about the citizenship status of Tamil-speaking Hindus who were allowed to legally settle in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu due to previous discrimination on the 
  • Tibetan refugees from China are also excluded from the bill despite being an ongoing concern and being unable to acquire Indian nationality
  • The passage of the Act caused large scale protests in India Muslim groups and secular groups have protested alleging religious discrimination, for violating the secular Constitution of India and its promise of equality under Article 14 and believe it legalises religious discrimination
  • The people of Assam and other north-eastern states continue to protest fearing that the non-Muslim illegal immigrants in their regions would be allowed to stay. The protests stem from the fear that illegal Bengali Hindu migrants from Bangladesh, if regularised under CAB, will threaten cultural and linguistic identities of the state.
  • Act was criticised by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom

Way forward:

  • Conciliation would be the best way forward to contain violence and reassure those in need of reassurance, pending a determination by the Supreme Court on the constitutional validity of the Act.
  • Incendiary statements and irresponsible finger-pointing on the basis of no evidence is not needed 

Conclusion:

  • Preamble of India ensures equality of status and opportunity the act is evident that it violates this principle and it also violates UDHR 1948 declaration so steps must be taken to ensure this status

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