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Modi Govt Implements CAA: Here’s All You Need To Know

Ahead of the 2024 general elections, the Central government has officially notified rules for the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) 2019. This move clears the path for granting citizenship to undocumented migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, excluding Muslims.

Under these regulations, the Modi-led government will initiate the process of conferring Indian nationality to persecuted non-Muslim migrants from these nations who entered India before December 31, 2014. This includes individuals belonging to religious minorities such as Christians, Parsis, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, and Hindus.

On Tuesday, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) filed an urgent application with the Supreme Court seeking to halt the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The Muslim body’s legal challenge comes a day after the Central government notified the rules for the CAA’s implementation, four years after the law was passed. In its petition, the Muslim body argues that the CAA is “unconstitutional and discriminatory”, particularly against Muslims.

What Is The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019?

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2019, passed by the Indian Parliament on December 11, 2019, is a legislative measure to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955.

This amendment facilitates the granting of Indian citizenship to religious minorities, including Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians, who fled religious persecution or fear thereof in neighbouring Muslim-majority countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan before December 2014.

Under the CAA 2019, migrants who entered India before December 31, 2014, were eligible for expedited Indian citizenship, reducing the residency requirement for naturalization from eleven years to five. However, the Act faced significant criticism for its exclusion of Muslims from its provisions.

In the past six years, India has granted citizenship to around 2,830 citizens from Pakistan, 912 from Afghanistan, and 172 from Bangladesh. Notably, many of these individuals are Muslims.

What Are The CAA 2024 Rules?

The rules aim to facilitate citizenship provision to migrants per the amendments to The Citizenship Act of 1955 in 2019.

The Home Ministry is exploring the implementation of an online system for the application, processing, and granting of citizenship under the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

Eligibility Criteria:

  1. Individuals of Indian origin are eligible to apply.
  2. Spouses of Indian citizens qualify for citizenship.
  3. Minor children of Indian citizens are eligible.
  4. Individuals with registered Indian citizen parents can apply.
  5. Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) Cardholders are also among the eligible applicants.

Documentation Requirements For Citizenship

Individuals intending to acquire citizenship through naturalization must complete Form VIIIA, accompanied by an affidavit verifying the accuracy of the provided information and attesting to the applicant’s character by an Indian citizen.

Furthermore, applicants are mandated to declare their proficiency in one of the languages listed in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India.

The Application Process For Citizenship

Under Section 6B of the Citizenship Act, 1955, applicants must adhere to a specific application procedure, which includes electronically submitting their applications to the Empowered Committee via the designated District Level Committee.

Once submitted, applicants will receive an acknowledgement in Form IX, followed by document verification conducted by the District Level Committee.

“Every application made by the applicant under sub-rule (1) shall have a declaration to the effect that the citizenship of his country shall stand renounced irrevocably in the event of his application being approved and that he shall not raise any claim on it in future,” the document read.

The designated officer will administer the oath of allegiance to the applicant, and the application, along with all necessary documents, will be forwarded to the Empowered Committee for further processing. If the applicant fails to appear in person for the oath-taking, the District Level Committee may refer the application to the Empowered Committee for possible rejection.

Upon completing the application process, citizens will be issued digital certificates, with the option of receiving a hard copy upon request.

Who Is Exempted From The CAA?

The Autonomous councils established under the 6th Schedule of the Constitution are not subject to the provisions of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Consequently, the legislation that took effect on Monday will not apply in most tribal regions of Northeastern states. These specially designated Autonomous councils include Karbi Anglong, Dila Hasao, and the Bodoland Territorial Council areas in Assam, Garo Hills in Meghalaya, and tribal areas in Tripura.

Moreover, areas, where the Inner Line Permit (ILP) is mandatory for visitors from other parts of the country in Northeastern states, are also excluded from the law. The ILP requirement is enforced in certain parts of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram, and Manipur.

Protests Against CAA

Since its introduction in 2019, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act has triggered widespread protests nationwide, including in the national capital region and northeastern states. Protesters in Assam and other northeastern areas voiced concerns over the potential loss of political, cultural, and land rights and fears of heightened migration from Bangladesh.

Criticism has centred on the alleged discrimination against Muslims and violation of constitutional equality principles. Some have questioned the exclusion of persecuted religious minorities from regions like Tibet, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar. Multiple petitions challenging the Act’s constitutionality have been filed, with the Supreme Court issuing notices to the Centre and seeking responses.

ALSO READ: IUML Urges Supreme Court To Halt CAA Implementation

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh accused the government of attempting to divert attention following recent Supreme Court remarks on electoral bonds. Kerala’s Chief Minister Vijayan declared non-implementation of the CAA in the state, denouncing it as a law fostering communal division.

The anti-CAA protests, followed by police actions, resulted in over 100 deaths so far.

Meanwhile, several petitions have been filed challenging the constitutional validity of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019, including by RJD leader Manoj Jha, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra and AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi.

Other petitioners include the Muslim body Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, All Assam Students Union (AASU), Peace Party, CPI, NGOs’ Rihai Manch’ and Citizens Against Hate, advocate M L Sharma, and law students have also approached the apex court challenging the Act.

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