"Citizenship Amendment Act to Take Effect with New Rules," Announces Central Government

Mainstream
12-Mar-2024
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In a significant development, the Central government is set to notify the Citizenship (Amendment) Rules, 2024, bringing the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019 (CAA) into active implementation. The impending notification comes four years after the CAA received presidential assent on December 12, 2019, and was subsequently gazetted, but its accompanying rules remained unnotified.

The CAA, which aims to provide citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Parsis who arrived in India on or before December 31, 2014, from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, had been a source of widespread protests, particularly marked by the Delhi riots in February 2020.

The amendment adds a new proviso to Section 2(1)(b) of the Citizenship Act of 1955, excluding certain communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, or Pakistan, who have been exempted by the Central government from the definition of "illegal migrant." Notably, the proviso explicitly excludes the Muslim community, sparking accusations of religious discrimination and fueling nationwide opposition.

Challenging the law, petitioners contend that the CAA infringes on the right to equality under Article 14 by discriminating against Muslims solely based on their religion. Despite over 140 petitions submitted to the Supreme Court, the Act was not stayed during a notice issued in January 2020.

In response to the legal challenges, the Central government, in an affidavit to the Supreme Court, asserts that the CAA does not compromise the legal, democratic, or secular rights of Indian citizens. Emphasizing that the existing citizenship acquisition process for foreigners remains unaffected by the CAA, the government aims to dispel concerns about potential discrimination.

The impending notification of the CAA Rules marks a crucial step in the implementation of the controversial legislation, renewing debates on religious inclusivity and constitutional principles. As the government moves forward with the CAA, the legal and social implications of this decision will undoubtedly continue to be a subject of intense scrutiny and discussion.

Author: Anushka Taraniya

News writer, MIT ADT UNIVERSITY