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Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016

Topics covered:

  1. Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
  2. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016

 

What to study?

  • For Prelims: Key features of the Bill, Citizenship Act 1955, Citizenship- acquisition and types available.
  • For Mains: Issues over the Bill, why is Assam opposed to the passage of this bill?

 

Context: A Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) has adopted a report clearing the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955.

 

WHAT IS THE CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT BILL 2016?

The Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 seeks to allow illegal migrants from certain minority communities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan eligible for Indian citizenship. In other words, it amends the Citizenship Act of 1955.

The Bill provides that the registration of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders may be cancelled if they violate any law.

 

WHAT DOES IT WANT?

  • The Citizenship Amendment Bill seeks to allow illegal migrants belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian religious communities coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan to not be imprisoned or deported.
  • It also appeals for the minimum years of residency in India to apply for citizenship to be lessened from at least 11 to six years for such migrants.
  • The Bill, however, does not extend to illegal Muslim migrants. It also does not talk about other minority communities in the three neighbouring countries, such as Jews, Bahais etc.

 

WHY ARE PEOPLE IN ASSAM NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT?

The Citizenship Amendment Bill has not been sitting well with the Assamese as it contradicts the Assam Accord of 1985, which clearly states that illegal migrants heading in from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971, would be deported.

 

What is the Citizenship Act 1995?

Under Article 9 of the Indian Constitution, a person who voluntarily acquires citizenship of any other country is no longer an Indian citizen.

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.

 

Who is an illegal immigrant?

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.

 

What are the guidelines to become an Indian citizenship?

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:

  • Birth
  • Descent
  • Registration
  • Naturalization
  • Incorporation of the territory.

 

Sources: the hindu.

Mains Question: Critically analyse various criticisms made against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.