CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT (CAA): AN OVERVIEW

By- Ayush Kumar Singh

As the name of the act says it is trying to amend the laws related to citizenship. First of all lets us talk about The Citizenship Act, 1955 which was passed on 30th December 1955 and enacted at the 6th year of Republic of India in brief and it says-



1. Who can become a citizen of India?

2. What are the ways to become an Indian citizen?

3. How a person can lose Indian citizenship?


For understanding CAA, 2019 it is important to know that when partition took place it created large number of refugee who want to live in independent India and applied for citizenship. Because of all these factors Indian government brought The Citizenship Act, 1955


When we see PART II of The Indian Constitution it talks who can be the citizen of Indian and also give power to the parliament to regulate and make laws on citizenship under Article 11. It also says under Article 10 that who is already the citizen of India there citizenship will not be effected due to Article 11. Now using the power of Article 11 Indian government has amended the act several times and the most resent is on 4th December 2019.


Main motive of CAA is to grant Indian citizenship to illegal migrates of Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Sikh, Parshi, and Christian communities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Now the question is who are illegal migrates?

  • Any foreigner who has entered into India without a valid passport or a travel document, or

  • Any foreigner who has entered India with a valid passport or a travel document but they are staying beyond the permitted period of time.


And through this amendment the Indian government says that any person belonging to above 6 communities who are from the above 3 countries will not be considered as illegal migrant if they entered Indian before December 31, 2014. The proposed law also reduced duration of residency from 11 years to 5 years for people belonging to same 6 religion and 3 countries.


Going back in history when partitions took place many people got displaces and died. It was the largest and the most rapid migration in the human history. In 1950 the PM of India and Pakistan signed the Pact for the safety of minorities in their respective counties and this Pact was known as the “Delhi Pact”. But Pakistan never took care of the minorities in its country. And neither Bangladesh nor Afghanistan. Jogendar Nath Mandal, the first law minister of Pakistan opposed PM Liaquat Ali Khan for the decision of making Pakistan an Islamic state because Mandal believe that it is contradicting Jinnah’s vision of secular Pakistan. It’s a 40 paragraph resignation letter which I would advise you to read.


Now on the other hand Indian government established Indian National Commission for Minorities. Now because of being ill-treated the people form the 3 countries migrated to India illegal. Therefor this amendment is purely made to ease the Indian citizenship for the refugee of above 6 communities. As these 3 countries are Islamic states, where Muslims are in majority. Hence there cannot be treated as upraised minorities.


However there are 2 main oppositions for this act-


1. Opposition party says – the bill is discriminatory according to article 14 of Indian constitution.

2. People of Northeast India strongly oppose the act.


Coming to the first point of opposition the act is unconstitutional as it is the violation of PART III of The Constitution, ‘The Fundamental Rights’. According to Article 14 Equality before law: “The state shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equality protection of the laws within the territory of India prohibition of discrimination on ground of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth”. As the word person is used in the provision that means there will be no discrimination within the territorial boundary of India. Any person weather the citizen of India or foreigner, will we treated equally before the eyes of law. And this makes the valid opposition but with a question whether non-citizens have constitutional rights. Since, the interpretation will we be done by the judiciary so it would be the very early stage to make any decision.


Secondly the people of North East India are opposing this act because according to them the migrates we change the demography of northeast India as the matter is that there is large number of migration of Bangla speaking Hindus and Muslims and this act will put the stay of the migrates and they will be not send back and it might outnumber the locals and might dominate in political rights of the citizens. The states may also lose their identities and culture.


Therefore these are the basic concept and the problem with Citizenship Amendment Act till date.




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