Union Home Ministry has notified amendments to the Citizenship Rules, 2009. The Centre has made the changes under Section 18 of the Citizenship Act, 1955. The amendment has opened up a pandora box of various issues.
Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016
▪ The contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, is pending in Parliament, but the Union Home Ministry has notified amendments to the Citizenship Rules, 2009, to include a separate column in the citizenship form for applicants belonging to six minority communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
▪ Under the amendments, a separate entry in the form will ask the applicant: Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, Sikhs and Christians from the above 3 countries.
What is the issue?
▪ The contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, is pending in Parliament. A parliamentary committee has been examining the Bill.
▪ It has run into strong resistance in Assam because it will pave the way for giving citizenship mostly to illegal Hindu migrants from Bangladesh in Assam, who came after March 1971, in violation of the 1985 Assam Accord.
▪ Citizenship rule 2009 is a rule to implement Citizenship Act,1955. This is being amended because Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 is under Parliament scrutiny.
What is the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016?
▪ The Citizenship Amendment Bill was proposed in Lok Sabha on July 19, amending the Citizenship Act of 1955.
▪ If this Bill is passed in Parliament, illegal migrants from certain minority communities coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan will then be eligible for Indian citizenship.
▪ In short, illegal migrants belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian religious communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan would not be imprisoned or deported.
▪ Moreover, these citizens gain permanent citizenship after six years of residency in India instead of 11 years — as mentioned in the Citizenship Act (1955).
▪ The registration of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders may get cancelled if they violate any law.
What is the Citizenship Act 1995?
▪ Citizenship by descent: Persons born outside India on or after January 26, 1950, but before December 10, 1992, are citizens of India by descent if their father was a citizen of India at the time of their birth.
▪ From December 3, 2004, onwards, persons born outside of India shall not be considered citizens of India unless their birth is registered at an Indian consulate within one year of the date of birth.
▪ In Section 8 of the Citizenship Act 1955, if an adult makes a declaration of renunciation of Indian citizenship, he loses Indian citizenship.
▪ According to the Citizenship Act (1955), an illegal immigrant is defined as a person who enters India without a valid passport or stays in the country after the expiry of the visa permit. Also, the immigrant who uses false documents for the immigration process.
▪ Citizenship is granted to an individual by the government of the country when he/she complies with the legal formalities, so it’s like a judicial concept.
▪ In India, the Citizenship Act, 1995 prescribes five ways of acquiring citizenship:
▪ Incorporation of the territory.
▪ National Register of Citizens, 1951
▪ The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a document manufactured by the Government which contains the names of Indian citizens.
▪ The updation of the NRC is a periodical process. It requires to be updated at regular intervals so as to ensure proper documentation of the citizens as well as to check possible illegal migration.
▪ In Assam, the updation of NRC could not be carried out since 1951 due to several political compulsions.
▪ The Assam Movement in 1980’s, the language Movement and such other identity movements fought on ethnic lines have heavily impinged on the system of governance in the state thereby leading to a stalemate on the NRC updation issue.
▪ After five decades of the stalemate, the present government has initiated steps to update the NRC under the direct supervision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.
What is Assam Accord?
▪ The Assam Accord (1985) was a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) signed between representatives of the Government of India and the leaders of the Assam Movement in New Delhi on 15 August 1985.
▪ The accord brought an end to the Assam Agitation and paved the way for the leaders of the agitation to form a political party and form a government in the state of Assam soon after.
▪ Some of the key demands were – All those foreigners who had entered Assam between 1951 and 1961 were to be given full citizenship, including the right to vote.
▪ Those who had done so after 1971 were to be deported; the entrants between 1961 and 1971 were to be denied voting rights for ten years but would enjoy all other rights of citizenship.