CAA: The Government versus People of India

In this article, the author discusses the different versions of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 regarding the view of Government as well as the people of India.


It is the devoir of the Parliament to make laws for the thriving futures of its subject, these are the People of this Country, and it is incumbent on the State to protect, promote, preserve & maintain tranquility and peace in the society,

But sometimes the rigidness and social construction of the law came in conflict with sectarian strife. Alike with the Citizenship Amendment Act. The Government passed the Bill on 11 December 2019 in Parliament in order to amend the citizenship act of 1955 and paved the way for citizenship to persecuted minorities, who are facing problem to follow their religion (Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsi, and Christians) residing in Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. As soon as the bill passed in the Lok Sabha the agitation and hoax against the bill proliferate and within a day’s acrimony for the bill spread in extensive and countrymen shows cold shoulder against the bill. People alleged that the bill was discriminatory in nature and does not make sense of reasonable classification, and religion can never be a ground for granting citizenship, however, the Government spun the allegation and claimed that the bill is based on reasonable classification of intelligible differentia and the bill does not bother to any religion irrespective of persecuted minorities.


Desideratum behind the Act

Under Article, 11,[1] the Parliament is empowered to make the laws for the matter concerning citizenship and in that order, the citizenship act of 1955 came forward and elaborate how citizenship can be acquired and how it could be lost. In 2016, a bill was introduced in Parliament with the intention to amend the citizenship act of 1955, for providing citizenship to illegal migrants belonging to six religions (Hindus, Sikh, Buddhists Parsi, Jain and Christians) came from three countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh), the bill also meant to make some modification in the provisions of the registration of overseas citizens of India cardholders. Since it was a debatable issue and the assent and concurrence of both the houses of Parliament are required, the bill was referred to a joint parliamentary committee, which submitted its report on January 7 2019. However, under the constitutional provisions, the bill lapsed with the dissolution of 16th Lok Sabha. It was re-introduced and passed by Parliament in December 2019. Moreover, many amendments have done in the citizenship act of 1955, in the year of 1986,1992,2003,2005 and followed in the year of 2015 and recently in 2019, but the hefty changes came across in the year 2019. In short, it does not mean that the Government tried this bill for the first time, it was earlier introduced but lapsed. However, the main plot for the introduction of this bill is to provide citizenship of India to the illegal migrants, which was prematurely not be provided by the citizenship act of 1955.


Visage of the bill


1) Under the purview of this bill, the illegal migrants are eligible for Indian citizenship which will be provided only after certain levels of Scrutiny and recommendations from the District authorities and the concerned State Government.

2) The Government reduced the minimum residency period for citizenship to 5 years from the present 11 years and the citizenship amendment bill 2019, pertains to all states and union territory in India although exceptions are there. The bill ponders to give self relief to migrants who have entered India from the western borders, such as Gujarat, Rajasthan Delhi and among others.

3) The Minister of Home Affairs has clarified that the bill is not just confined to the northeastern state of Assam and that the burden of migrants will be shared by the entire nation, and Assam would not be dealing with it alone. Bill adds that the provision on citizenship for the illegal migrants will not apply to the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura, as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution.

4) Tribal areas include Karbi-Anglong(Assam), Garo hills(Meghalaya), Chakma district(Mizoram), and Tripura tribal areas district

Bill will not apply to the areas under the “Inner Line” under Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873. Inner Line permit regulates visit of Indians to Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland.


People who stirred

Many agitation and protest break out against this act all over the country as well as in some foreign countries, mostly protest occurs by the youth, some protest seems to be violent in regards to the incidents happened in Jamia Millia Islamia University and followed by Aligarh Muslim University, however, the students of universities alleged that they were protesting peacefully and police did the brutalities and atrocities over students, thousands of student detained and arrested while protesting against the act.

The second phase of protest raise by the north-eastern States they alleged that they illegal migrants hamper their cultures and resources and hence the vulnerability of the tribe’s caste.

Other segments alleged that the Government did this to focus only on anti-Muslim propaganda and which violates the basic structure of the Constitution which calls for the debate as to whether they have an apprehension of infringement of constitutional provisions. This list does not end up here of people protesting against it. The celebrities, news anchors, motivational gurus, constitutional experts even the politicians and some State legislative assemblies demanded the resolution not to implement CAA in their state[2].


Escape clauses

The main point of departure against the bill was that, it is discriminatory in nature more precisely it violates Article 14[3] of the Indian constitution. In our constitution right to equality is a fundamental right provided to all its citizens and by excluding Muslim communities it did violates the right. However, the Government begrudges the allegation and said it was made on the basis of reasonable classification of intelligible differentia. Another moiety is north-eastern state, people recently underwent with National Registration of Citizenship(NRC) in which 19 lakh people are found to be without proper documentation and they were mostly Hindus, now this act makes an apprehension in the mind of North-eastern state people for extinction of their culture and communities, hence people came and use their resource and get dilute the Assam Accord, moreover, the Home Ministry clarified that the bill was not applicable to some part of North-eastern state as well as states mention in the Sixth schedule of Indian constitution. Another point of discussion is that why only these three Countries were chosen? However, the government relied on the statement these all are Islamic state Countries, although the reason is not consistent.

Back- fence talks about the Act

Journalists contented the Act to be a self-inflicted problem, India is in the middle of implementing an anti-immigration policy whose complexity is not properly discussed and therefore not fully understood by the majority of people.[4]

In the midst of spreading of rumours lets demystify few of them:


1. Does the Act affect any Indian citizens? No, the act does not affect any Indian citizens, moreover, the act does not work in the field of taking citizenship but merely for the purpose of giving citizenship.

2. The act applies to whom? It applies only to Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi, and Christian migrants, who have migrated from the Countries, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan into India till the date of 31.12.2014, in furtherance of persecution faced by them due to their religion. It does not apply to any other, including Muslims migrating to India from any country, including these three countries.

3. Does the act debars the Muslim community from these three countries for getting citizenship? No, the people can apply within the same provision as followers earlier according to the provisions of the citizenship act of 1955.

4. Does the act exclude the Indian Muslims from attaining citizenship? No, the act does not affect the citizenship of people already residing in the country.


Conclusion

Famously quoted: “an unjust law is itself a species of violence”, this seems to be the situation of India right now, but the provision of the Act is not operational till yet but may be operative only after Clarified its constitutional validity and stand strong, and rotten out the ambiguity regarding the act in minds of people of this country, but as far as India is concerned, it’s a democratic Country people have the right to protest and their intonation should not be unheard.


References:


[1] "Article 11 in The Constitution Of India 1949 - [2]https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/kerala-cm-tables-anti-caa-resolution-in-assembly-1632845-2019-12-31. [3] "Article 14: Protection from discrimination | Equality and Human ...." 15 Nov. 2018, https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/human-rights-act/article-14-protection-discrimination. Accessed 2 Jan. 2020. [4] https://www.rediff.com/news/column/caa-is-a-self-inflicted-problem/20191220.htm



Submitted by:

Akash Ranjan Goswami


(Images used are for representative purpose only)

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