BY MONDIP CHUTIA

Photo source- The Hindu

The Bharatia Janata Party(BJP) government on December 9, 2019 is going to present the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 in the Parliament.The bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act 1955 to move illegal immigrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan eligible for citizenship of India. The bill was introduced earlier in the Parliament in July 2018, where it was passed in Lok Sabha in January 8, 2019 but rejected in Rajya Sabha ( Now remind the constitutional amendment power of LS and RS). The bill also seeks to reduce the requirement of 11 years of continuous stay in the country to six years, to obtain citizenship by naturalization( discussed below).

Why is the amendment bill under constant criticism?

1.The bill is non inclusive and discriminatory.

2.The bill is mostly focused on the Hindu community and the communities associated with Hinduism such as Buddhist, Jain, Parsis.

3.The bill directly contradicts the genesis of the idea behind Indian constitution, which confers citizenship and fundamental rights to its citizens.

4.It is violating Article 14 of the Indian constitution which provides equality to all persons.

5.The bill does not explain the rationale behind differentiating between illegal migrants on the basis of religion they belong to.

WHO IS AN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT?

According to the Citizenship Act (1955), an illegal immigrant is a person who enters India without a valid passport or stays in the country after the expiry of the visa permit.This includes also the immigrants who use false documents for the immigration process.

What is the Citizenship Act 1955?

It is an act passed by the parliament in 1955 which provides for acquisition and loss of Citizenship. So far, 4 times the Citizenship Act has been amended-

I.The Citizenship(Amendment) Act 1986.

II.The Citizenship(Amendment) Act 1992.

III.The Citizenship(Amendment) Act 2003.

IV.The Citizenship(Amendment) Act 2005.

Acquisition of Citizenship under the act:

1.By Birth-

•A person born in India on or after 26 January 1950 but before 1st July 1987 is a citizen of India by birth irrespective of the nationality of his/her parents.

•A person born in India on or after 1st July 1987 is considered as a citizen of India, if either of his parents is a citizen of India at the time of his birth.

•A person born in India on or after 3rd December 2004 are considered as citizen of India only if either or both of his parents are citizen of India.

2. By Descent-

•A person born outside India on or after 26th January 1950 but before 10th December 1992 is a citizen of India by descent, if his father was a citizen of India at the time of his birth.

•A person born outside India on or after 10th  December 1992 is a citizen of India by descent, if his parents was a citizen of India at the time of his birth.

•From 3rd December 2004 onward, a person born outside India shall not be a citizen unless his birth is registered at an Indian consulate within one year of his birth.

3. By registration-

•A person of Indian origin and ordinarily resident of India for 7 years before making an application.

•A person who is married to a citizen of India and is ordinarily resident in India for 7 years.

•A person, who or either of his parents was earlier citizen of independent India and has been residing India for 1 year before making an application.

•A person, who has been registered as an oversea citizen of India for 5 years and who has been residing in India for 1 year

4. By Naturalization-

•A person, who is a citizen of any country where citizens of India are prevented from becoming citizens of that country by naturalization.

•If he has either resided in India or been in the service of the Govt. of India throughout the 12 years immediately preceding the date of the application.

•If he is of good character.

•If he has adequate knowledge of a language specified in the 8th schedule of the constitution.

5. By incorporation of Territory-

Question 1 – If the amendment bill becomes an act then under what provision the illegal immigrants will get Indian Citizenship????

Question 2 – If the bill becomes an act, is there any provision to go to the apex court? If yes under what provision an individual or group of people will approach the court? (hint:- normally an individual can not directly move to the SC).

Probable Socio-economic impact:-

1.Pressure on agricultural land due to abrupt increase in population

2. Tensions and clashes between the ethnic communities and illegal immigrants.

3. Large scale displacement of local labor by immigrants who work on lower wages.

4. Rising unemployment among local workforce.

5. Others like- underdevelopment, environmental degradation, rising urban crimes, narcotics and human trafficking etc.

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