This article has been written by Niti Shah studying BLS/LLB from Pravin Gandhi College of Law, University of Mumbai. Lok Sabha has passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the year 2019.
What is Meant by Citizenship?
Citizenship is a lawful right to be a part of a particular country. citizenship grants upon individual membership in a national political community. Once a person is a Citizen enjoy civil and political rights in a sovereign state.
Citizenship as given in the Indian Constitution
The Constitution of India provides for Citizenship to Indians under Article between 5 to 11
Article 5: This article provides citizenship by the way of domicile.
Article 6: This article grants citizenship to persons who have migrated from Pakistan to India before the constitution of India commenced
Article 7: This article bestow citizenship on those people who have migrated to Pakistan after the announcement of Independence but later returned to India
Article 8: This article provides for citizenship to people whose parents or grandparents were born in India, but are resident of abroad.
Article 9:This article provides that any person who has the citizenship of any other country will not be entitled to the citizenship of India.
Article 10: This article states that all citizens shall continue to be citizens of India.
Article 11:Gives power to the parliament to make rules regarding citizenship.
Under Article 11 of the Constitution, the Parliament enacted the Citizenship Act, 1955. The Act has provided for acquisition and loss of citizenship after the commencement of the constitution.
The Act mentions various ways in which a person can be Indian citizen –
Citizenship by Birth
A person who is born in India after or on 3rd December 2004 is considered as a citizen of India by birth. Only if the parents are citizens of India or even if one of the parents is a citizen of India and the other is not an illegal migrant at the time of his birth.
Citizenship by Descent
Until 1992, if a person is born outside India and has an Indian father then is eligible for citizenship by descent. However, from December 2004 onwards, a person is considered an Indian citizen only if his/her birth is registered within one year
Citizenship by Registration
Subject to certain conditions and restrictions, the person of Indian origin or a woman married to an Indian citizen can be registered as an Indian citizen
Citizenship by Naturalization
Citizenship of India by naturalization can be acquired by a foreigner who has resided in India during the last 12 months, and for 11 of the previous 14 years and satisfies other qualifications as specified in the Third Schedule of the Act.
Citizenship by Acquiring Territory
In case a new territory becomes a part of India, the government of India specifies all the people of that territory who can be citizens of India
Key highlights of the similar are:
- The citizenship amendment act tends to amend the Act to make the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, Christians migrants who have migrated to India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan after facing mistreatment on the ground of religious persecution eligible for citizenship.
Note: The Citizenship Act, 1955 not only prohibits but also doesn’t encourage illegal migrants from acquiring Indian citizenship
- The act seeks to discount the minimum years of residency in India to apply for citizenship to be lessened from 12 years to 7 years for such migrants which are mentioned above.
- Any law violated by the overseas citizens of india cardholders(OCI) Then their citizenship might be canceled.
Note: Overseas citizens of India are the people who are given a lifetime visa status. The Bill will apply only to all States and Union Territories of the country as given in the amendment act.
Applicability of the Citizenship Amended Act
- The provisions on citizenship will not apply to the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura, which are included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution. These tribal areas include Karbi Anglong (in Assam), Garo Hills (in Meghalaya), Chakma District (in Mizoram), and Tripura Tribal Areas District.
- It will also not apply to the “Inner Line” areas notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873. In these areas, visits by Indians are regulated only through the Inner Line Permit.
Cancellation of Registration of OCIs:
These are the grounds on which the central government may cancel the registration of the OCIs
- If the citizen has registered itself by the way of fraud.
- After the registration within a time of five years, the citizen has been sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more.
- if in case it is a necessity for the sovereignty and security of India.
Note: The orders for cancellation of OCI will only pass if it is heard from the OCIs cardholder
This permit system applies to Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland.
Concerns Against the Amendment Act
Issues present in the North-Eastern part of India
- According to the Assam Accord of 1985, which states that illegal migrants, irrespective of religion, heading in from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971, would be deported. The act contradicts the same.
- It is further argued by the critics because of events in which there has been an extensive exercise of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) all of that will become void due to this Amendment act.
- There are an estimated 20 million illegal Bangladeshi migrants in Assam and they have altered the demography of the state also put a severe strain on the state’s resources and economy.
- Article 14 of the Constitution and the principle of secularism enshrined in the preamble of the constitution it is voilative of them
- It will be difficult for the government to differentiate between illegal migrants and those prosecuted.
- the Supreme Court, being the Guardian of the Constitution has to interpret the provisions of the Act and test that whether the “classification” done in the Act is “reasonable” or not if tested against Article 14.
- India has a civilization duty to protect those who are prosecuted in its neighbourhood. But, the methods must be following the spirit of the Constitution.
- the people of the North-East should be engaged more constructively to convince them that the linguistic, cultural, and social identity of the people of the region would be preserved.
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