The Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019: India takes tough stand for Muslims

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019 has been approved by the Union Cabinet on Dec., 04, 2019. The Bill seeks to amend The Citizenship Act, 1955 to make Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian illegal migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship of India.

The provision intended to benefit the non-Muslim immigrants from India’s three neighbours to become citizens of India.

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According to the Citizenship Act, 1955, illegal migrants cannot get citizenship of India. The people, who have entered India without valid travel documents like passports and visas or have come to India with valid documents but stay here longer than the period mentioned therein, are considered as illegal migrants under this law. But under the Citizenship Act, 1955, one of the requirements for citizenship by naturalisation is that the applicant must have resided in India during the last 12 months, as well as for 11 of the previous 14 years.

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The amendment relaxes the second requirement from 11 years to 6 years as a specific condition for applicants belonging to these six religions, and the aforementioned three countries.

Under The Citizenship Act, 1955, a person who is born in India, or has Indian parentage, or has resided in India over a specified period of time, is eligible for Indian citizenship.

The biggest concern raised from different section of society is that it specifically targeted the Muslim community. Opposition parties said that this is a violation of Article 14 of the Constitution, which speaks of the right to equality.

The government, however, maintains that the Bill aims to grant citizenship to minorities who have faced religious persecution in Muslim-majority foreign countries.

In the Northeastern states, the prospect of citizenship for massive numbers of illegal Bangladeshi migrants has triggered deep anxieties, including fears of demographic change, loss of livelihood opportunities, and erosion of the indigenous culture.

The bill is scheduled to be tabled in the Parliament on Monday, 9th Dec. 2019 .Should it be passed, the CAB will become the first bill under which nationality will be granted on the basis of religion.

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