The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 allows illegal immigrants from Afghanistan,
Bangladesh and Pakistan to become Indian citizens. These illegal immigrants must
belong to these 6 communities which includes Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Parsi,
Christian, or Buddhist, and they must have entered into the territory of India
before 31st December, 2014.
In this Muslims along with Sri Lankan Tamils and Rohingya were not included. There are no provisions for sections of Muslim i.e.
Shia and Ahmadiyya who also went through persecution in those countries.
According to the Citizenship Act, one must have resided in India from the past
12 months and for 11 of the past 14 years. However, in this amendment act for
illegal immigrants who meet certain criteria, the residency requirement has been
reduced from 11 years to 5 years.
The favor was done by the government because people of those countries had faced
discrimination in various ways as they belong to those communities which are in
minority class. New provisions for OCI card holders also came into existence.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2016 which
proposed a change in the Indian Citizenship Act of 1955. Then the bill was sent
to the Joint Parliamentary Committee for review and after that it was passed in
Lok Sabha on 8th January 2019, but due to the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha
in May, 2019 the bill lapsed.
The bill was reintroduced in the 17th Lok Sabha on 9th December 2019 by Amit
Shah (Minister of Home Affairs) and passed on 10th December, 2019. Later on,
Rajya Sabha also passed the bill on 11th December, 2019. By receiving the assent
of the President it came into force on 12th December, 2019.
Why is there a need for amendment in the Citizenship Act, 1955?
Many people from Muslim majority countries i.e. Afghanistan, Bangladesh and
Pakistan came to India as they faced religious tyranny there and to save
themselves. In order to give those illegal migrants an identity, CAA, 2019 is
introduced. Before CAA, 2019 there was no act which gave illegal migrants Indian
Citizenship. So, the act is amended in order to give citizenship to the people
who faced religious persecution.
Those illegal migrants who came to India before 31st December 2014 from
Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan and belong to these 6 communities which
includes Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Parsi, Christian, or Buddhist are eligible to become
The situation before CAA, 2019:
Before Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, illegal migrants are not eligible to
acquire citizenship of India. Those illegal migrants were restricted from
becoming Indian citizens through registration and naturalization. Others can
become citizens of India by:
Registration (Under Section 5 of Citizenship Act of 1955):
A person can become an Indian citizen by registering if they are of Indian
origin and have lived in India for at least 7 years before applying.
They must also have lived in India continuously for 12 months before applying.
Naturalization (Under Section 6 of Citizenship Act of 1955):
To become an Indian citizen by naturalization, a person must have resided in
India for the past 12 months and for 11 of the past 14 years.
Provisions for OCI Card holders:
The Citizenship Amendment Act has added a new provision that allows foreigners
who are of Indian origin to apply for Overseas Citizen of India (OCI)
registration. This includes former Indian citizens and their descendants, as
well as the spouses of such persons.
This also allows the Central Government to cancel the registration of Overseas
Citizens of India (OCIs) if they violate any law notified by the Central
Government. However, the amendment does not provide any guidance on what types
of laws can be notified by the Central Government for this purpose.
According to Article 11 of the Indian Constitution, Parliament has the right to
make laws related to citizenship. But after this act many questions were raised
by the opposition and many citizens. But the major goal was to provide
citizenship to the illegal immigrants who have suffered in those 3 countries and
now living in the country for 5 years. For others who want to apply through the
regular process mentioned from Sections 3-7 in Indian Citizenship Act, 1955.
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Gursimar Kour Sudan
Authentication No: NV332443450951-20-1123