Citizenship Amendment Act 2019: All you need to know

Citizenship Amendment Act 2019: All you need to know

Citizenship Amendment Act 2019: All you need to know

President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019,On 12th December 2019,  Turning it into the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. According to an official notification, the Act comes into effect with its publication in the official gazette on 12th December 2019. 
Protests over the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) spread across the country with students, some sections of the civil society and opposition political parties holding demonstrations at several places urging the Centre to revoke the Act. 

What is Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019?

The Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), 2019 has been passed by the Lok Sabha on 9 December 2019. CAB has been signed by the President of India that is why it has become an act now. The purpose of this bill is to give Indian citizenship to illegal migrants of 6 communities (Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, and Parsi) belong to Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. The illegal migrants of Muslim community is not included in this act.

Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019

India is a secular, sovereign and peace-loving country. Perhaps it is the only country in the world that has justified the slogan of 'Unity in diversity'. Perhaps this is why citizens of many countries want Indian citizenship.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 has been passed by the Lok Sabha on 9th December 2019. This bill is signed by the President on 12 December 2019 that is why it has become as act now. Let us know in this article; what is this act, what are its features and Why is it opposed by some political parties

Citizenship Amendment Act 2019: All you need to know

  • The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 seeks to provide Indian citizenship to illegal refugees from 6 communities coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.
  • These 6 communities include; Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Christian, Jain, and Parsi.
  • Worth to mention that Illegal migrants can be imprisoned or deported under the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920. These two Acts empower the central government to check the entry, exit and residence of foreigners within India.
  • The Act says the refugees of the six communities will be given Indian citizenship after residing in India for five years, instead of 11 years earlier.
Citizenship Amendment Act 2019: All you need to know

What is the cut-off date for Indian Citizenship?

  • The cut-off date for citizenship is December 31, 2014, which means the applicant should have intruded into India on or before this date. 
  • The intruders are assumed to those who were “forced or compelled to take shelter in India due to persecution on the ground of their religion” in their native country.

Who will Benefit from the Law?

  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Act grants citizenship to Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhist, Jains and Parsis - from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who had arrived in India before December 31, 2014.
  • The legislation applies to those who were “forced or compelled to seek shelter in India due to persecution on the ground of religion”.
  • It aims to protect such people from proceedings of illegal migration from the neighboring countries.
  • The requirement to stay in India for those belonging to any of these 6 religions for at least 11 years before applying for Indian citizenship has been reduced to five years.
  • Indian citizenship, under present law, is given either to those born in India or if they have resided in the country for a minimum of 11 years.


What does the Citizenship Amendment Act, 1955 say?

The Citizenship Amendment Bill, 1955 describes 5 conditions for obtaining citizenship of India, such as 
  1. Citizenship by Birth
  2. Citizenship by Descent
  3. Citizenship by Registration
  4. Citizenship by Naturalization
  5. Citizenship by incorporation of territory
The Citizenship Amendment Bill, 1955 made it mandatory for a person to stay in India for at least 11 years to acquire citizenship naturally, which was later reduced to 6 years, but in the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, this period reduced to 5 years.

Key Points of Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019

  1. Under the Citizenship Act 1955, a person may be given an OCI card, if he is of Indian origin (e.g., a former citizen of India or their descendants) or the spouse of a person of Indian origin. Now the Act of 2019 gives the facility to OCI cardholder to travel in India, work, and study in the country.
  2. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 says that the citizenship of OCI cardholders can be cancelled on 5 grounds;
    • a. Showing disaffection to the Constitution of India
    • b. Registration through fraud
    • c. Engaging with the enemy during war
    • d. Damaging the sovereignty of India
    • e. Sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more within five years of registration as OCI. 
    • But the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 added one more ground of the cancellation i.e.if the OCI has violated any law that is in force in the country.
  3. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 says that on acquiring citizenship:
    • (a). Such persons shall be deemed to be citizens of India from the date of their entry (on or before December 31, 2014) into India, and
    • (b). All legal proceedings against illegal migrants related to their illegal migration or citizenship will be closed.
    • However, the bill will not give these benefits to the illegal migrants of tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura.
  4. The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2016 provided that these illegal migrants of (Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians communities of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan must stay at least 6 years in India before applying for Indian citizenship through naturalisation.
But the current Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 would reduce this period to 5 years from 6 years.

Why the Protests?

There are two distinct rallying points of protests against the Act.
  • (I) In the northeast, the protest is against the Act's implementation in their areas. Most of them fear that if implemented, the Act will cause a rush of immigrants that may alter their demographic and linguistic and cultural uniqueness.
  • (II) In the rest of India, like in Kerala, West Bengal and in Delhi, people are protesting against the exclusion of Muslims, alleging it to be against the ethos of the Constitution.

The Exclusions

  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Act does not apply to tribal areas of Tripura, Mizoram, Assam and Meghalaya because of being included in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
  • Also, areas that fall under the Inner Limit notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, will also be outside the Act's purview.
  • This keeps almost entire Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland out of the ambit of the Act.

NRC link to the controversial Act

  • The National Register of Citizens (NRC), which identified illegal immigrants from Assam, had been a longstanding demand in Assam. But ever since its implementation, there has been a growing demand for its nationwide implementation.
  • After the updated final NRC in Assam was released on August 31 this year, it excluded the names of over 19 lakh applicants, including Hindus.
  • Now, the CAA will ensure they are not harmed.
  • NRC, which may be extended to the rest of the country, is not based on religion, unlike CAB.

Opposition's argument against the Act

The Opposition has claimed that the Act was against the basic principles of the Constitution as it "discriminates" on the basis of religion and would alienate Muslims, the largest minority community in the country.
  • The opposition also objected to keeping countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar out of the list.
  • The bill was violate of the provisions of Articles 14, 15, 21, 25 and 26 of the Constitution, it was alleged.


Government's Stand on CAA

  • The Centre has rejected the suggestions that the bill is anti-Muslim. Home minister Amit Shah has said the measure has the endorsement of 130 crore citizens of the country as it was the part of the BJP manifesto in 2014 as well as 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
  • The Act does not discriminate against anyone and does not snatch anyone's rights, Shah said.
  • The home minister said under the Act, citizenship will be granted to refugees coming from the three countries after facing religious persecution there even without documents, including ration cards.
  • This bill is not even .001 per cent against Muslims. It is against infiltrators, the home minister has reiterated.

Bill passes Lok Sabha Test

  • On December 9, the Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill after a seven-hour-long debate with 334-106 votes.

Bill Passed in Rajya Sabha

  • On December 11, the Rajya Sabha approved the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, thus completing the legislative procedure for giving Indian citizenship to non-Muslims migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The Bill was passed with 125-105 votes.

Bill gets President's Assent

  • On December 12, President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to the Bill, turning into an Act.

SC decides to examine the constitutional validity of the Citizenship Amendment Act

  • On 18th December, the Supreme Court decided to examine the constitutional validity of the amended Citizenship Act but refused to stay its operation. 
  • The top court issued a notice to the Centre on a batch of pleas challenging the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
  • A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant fixed 59 petitions, including those filed by the Indian Union Muslim League and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, for hearing on January 22, 2020.


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