Citizenship Bill to be tabled in Parliament on Monday

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on December 06, 2019

Non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan to get citizenship

The Centre has circulated the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Lok Sabha, which is likely to be taken up for passage on Monday.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah states in the objects and reasons of the Bill that as the Constitutions of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh provide for a specific State religion, many persons belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities have persecution on the grounds of religion.

Protecting N-E populace

Shah says that the Bill seeks to grant immunity to the migrants to India from those religions so that “any proceedings against them regarding in respect of their status of migration or citizenship does not bar them from applying for Indian citizenship.”

The Bill also seeks to protect the Constitutional guarantee given to indigenous populations of North Eastern States under the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the statutory protection given to areas covered under “the Inner Line” system of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.

“In the Citizenship Act, 1955, in Section 2 in sub-section (i), in clause (b) the following proviso shall be inserted namely:- “provided that any person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, who entered into India on or before the 31st day of December 2014 and who has been exempted by the central government by or under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 or from the application of the provisions of the Foreigners Act 1946 or any rule or order made thereunder shall not be treated as illegal migrants for the purposes of this Act,” the Bill said.

“In the Third Schedule to the principal Act, in clause (d), the following proviso shall be inserted:- Provided that for the person belonging to Hindus, Sikh, Jain, Parsi or Christian community in Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, the aggregate period of residence or service of government in India as required under this clause shall be read as ‘not less than five years’ in place of ‘not less than eleven years’,” it added.

Shah had assured Chief Ministers, MPs and political leaders of North Eastern States during a meeting held on November 30 that the amendment will not be applicable to the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and in the areas covered under The Inner Line, notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, applicable in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram.

For and against the Bill

While NDA allies Shiromani Akali Dal and AIADMK are likely to support the Bill, the JD(U) has not taken a decision so far.

Among the Opposition parties, almost all parties, except the Trinamool Congress, have stated that they will vote against the Bill. The BJP is likely to get the support from BJD, YSRCP and the TRS for the Bill. The Bill is unlikely to face any major hurdles in Parliament.

The earlier form of the Bill was scrutinised by a Joint Select Committee of Parliament.

Published on December 06, 2019

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