Context:

The Home Ministry empowered 13 more District Collectors in five States to grant citizenship certificates to applicants belonging to six minority communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Citizenship, Government Policies and Interventions, Issues arising out of the design and implementation of these policies)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the latest notification regarding the granting of Citizenship
  2. Latest notification and the CAA
  3. Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA)
  4. Criticisms of the CAA

About the latest notification regarding the granting of Citizenship

  • The Home Ministry empowered 13 more District Collectors in the States of: Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab – to grant citizenship certificates to applicants belonging to six minority communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
  • This notification intends to benefit legal migrants (who entered on passport/visa) from the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who have already applied for Citizenship under Section 5 (by registration) and Section 6 (naturalisation) of the Citizenship Act, 1955.
  • The fresh notification grants the power to Collectors of Morbi, Rajkot, Patan and Vadodara in Gujarat; Durg and Balodabazar in Chhattisgarh; Jalore, Udaipur, Pali, Barmer and Sirohi in Rajasthan; Faridabad in Haryana and Jalandhar in Punjab. These are the areas where the population of such migrants are concentrated.
  • Though there have been no exact numbers of such migrants who came to India on LTV or any other type of visa but officials estimate the number to be around two lakhs. There are around 400 Pakistani Hindu refugee settlements in Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jaipur.
  • In 2015, the ministry amended the citizenship rules and legalised the stay of such foreign migrants belonging to the six communities who entered India on or before December 2014 due to persecution on grounds of religion by exempting them from provisions of the Passport Act and Foreigners Act. It also allowed them to take up employment opportunities in non-government sectors and empowered District Magistrates in select States to allow purchase of property and issue of driving licence.
  • The Home Secretaries of Punjab (except Jalandhar) and Haryana (except Faridabad) have also been given such powers.

Latest notification and the CAA

  • Under the existing system, minority communities from the three countries who entered India before December 31, 2009, may or may not choose to provide a copy of their passports but they have to provide the date of the visa and may upload the visa document in place of the passport while applying for citizenship.
  • The latest notification is a reiteration of similar orders issued in 2016 and 2018 and is not related to the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) that is yet to come into effect.
  • Since the rules for CAA are yet to be framed and a minority applicant from the three countries, even if he or she came in 2014 becomes eligible for citizenship in the year 2025, but many have been residing in India for more than 20 years on long-term visas (LTV). An LTV is a precursor to Citizenship.

Citizenship as a Central Subject discussion

  • Citizenship is a Central subject and the Home Ministry periodically delegates powers to States through gazette notification under Section 16 of the Citizenship Act, 1955.
  • Indian citizenship can be acquired on eight grounds – based on registration made by a person of Indian origin, by a person married to an Indian, minor child, whose parents are registered as citizens of India, by a person whose either parent was a citizen of Independent India, overseas citizens of India, by naturalisation and registration of a child at an Indian consulate.

Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA)

  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) was notified in December 2019 and came into force from January 2020, amending the Citizenship Act, 1955.
  • The Citizenship Act,1955 provides various ways in which citizenship may be acquired: providing for citizenship by birth, descent, registration, naturalisation and by incorporation of the territory into India.
  • The objective of the CAA is to grant Indian citizenship to persecuted minorities — Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi and Christian — from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
  • Those from these communities who had come to India till December 31, 2014, facing religious persecution in their respective countries, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.
  • The Act provides that the central government may cancel the registration of OCIs on certain grounds.
  • The Act does not apply to tribal areas of Tripura, Mizoram, Assam and Meghalaya because of being included in the 6th 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.

Criticisms of the CAA

  • It violates the basic tenets of the Constitution. Illegal immigrants are distinguished on the basis of religion.
  • It is perceived to be a demographic threat to indigenous communities.
  • It makes illegal migrants eligible for citizenship on the basis of religion. This may violate Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees the right to equality.
  • It attempts to naturalise the citizenship of illegal immigrants in the region.
  • It allows cancellation of OCI registration for violation of any law. This is a wide ground that may cover a range of violations, including minor offences.

-Source: The Hindu

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