Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 (CAB)
The citizenship amendment bill, 2019, also referred to as CAB was introduced to make changes in the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955. It provides to make migrants who are Hindus, Jains, Parsis, Buddhists, Sikhs and Christians from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who have entered India before or on 4th December 2014, will be eligible for Indian Citizenship.
During the time of 2014 LokSabhaelections, the Bharatiya Janata Party promised the refugees to give them shelter in India. Narendra Modi promised to welcome the refugees from Bangladesh and Pakistan. Due to this promise, a bill named as Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016 was introduced. However, this bill faced a lot of protest from Assam during that time. Assam’s chief concern was the unstable democracy of that time.
In the year 2019, the Bharatiya Janata Party, during elections again tried to bring this bill in the picture. In January 2019, the citizenship amendment bill, 2019 was introduced by the central government. It was important to introduce this bill as the National Register of Citizens (NRC) states that around 1.9 billion people in Assam were without citizenship.
- The bill further states that the time period, which was a necessary requirement for naturalization (a method of granting citizenship)was capped at 11 years which will be now reduced to 5 years for these migrants.
- Even the OCI i.e. Overseas Citizen of India (under the citizenship act, 1955) registration is amended. The registration of OCI (generally asked by those whose spouse is Indian) grants people the right to travel to India and work and study in the country. The amendment relates to the possible cancellation of registration that may get cancelled by the central government if any of the relating laws are violated or not followed.
What does the bill say?
On gaining Indian citizenship:-
- The refugees would be considered as citizens of India from the date of their entry.
- All the legal proceedings against them would be closed.
The bill mainly covers six communities which are Hindus, Jains, Parsis, Buddhists, Sikhs and Christians. The Citizenship act of 1955 states that an illegal migrant cannot stay in India. Illegal migrants are those people who enter India without valid papers/documents or the ones who stay on the land beyond the permitted time. Illegal migrants are also known as Refugees. This step specifically aimsto give a safe place to the refugees in India
Who is going to be affected the most?
According to the Intelligence Bureau, approximately 30,000people will benefit from this amendment bill. The bill is most likely to affect the seven northeastern states as the most number of refugees are nestled there, thus affecting the demography of those states. However, the central government has stated that this bill will not affect the tribal areas of Mizoram (Chakma district), Tripura, Meghalaya (Garo Hills), and Assam (KarbiAnglong). Moreover, this bill will not be applicable to the states that fall under “Inner Line Permit”. Currently, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and Mizoram fall under such a category. On Monday, Home Minister of India Amit Shah mentioned that Manipur would be considered under “Inner Line Permit.”
This bill has been facing a lot of opposition from various organizations and parties as it is applicable to only certain religions. It has also been said that the Citizenship Amendment Bill questions Article 14 of the Indian constitution which states that Equality before the law and everyone should be treated equally before the law and not discriminated the basis of caste, religion, sex, or creed. India being a secular state, it questions the preamble of the constitution.
Research and analysis wing (RAW) has also said that CAB can be misused in India. It could bring legal instability in the country.
People are also raising objections like why other neighbour countries like Sri Lanka, Tibet, and Myanmar have not been included.
One of the biggest name in national and International law, Harish Salve came in support of The citizenship amendment bill, 2019. He said this bill doesn’t violate article 14, 15, or 21 of the Indian constitution. He further said this bill is not anti-Muslim.
Majority of the northeastern states in Loksabha supported this bill as they said, the bill has no provisions which might harm the democracy of states.
Prime Minister Modi said, he was very happy and delighted to see that the bill passed with a great majority in Lok Sabha.
During a debate, Amit shah said, such bill won’t have any impact on the Muslim Community.
The bill was cleared by the union cabinet on 4th December 2019. LokSabha, after a rich and extensive debate, passed the bill on 9th December 2019 with 311 votes in favour and 80 votes against it. On 11th December 2019, the bill was passed in the RajyaSabha. The bill was passed with 125 votes in favour and 105 against it.
A bill becomes an Act only after the approval of the President of India. According to an official notification, the Amendment Act was published in the official gazette. On 12th December, President Ram NathKovind on Thursday gave his assent to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, turning it into an Act.
- Every coin has two sides; likewise, the citizenship Amendment Act has its own positive and negative aspects.
- In the coming years, the economy will be profoundly affected by this step. The LokSabha elections which will take place in the year 2024 will have a significant impact due to this bill.