As the Centre frames rules under the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019, it issued a gazette notification on Friday granting powers to authorities in 13 districts of Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Haryana, and Punjab to accept, verify, and approve citizenship applications from members of minority communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh under existing rules. Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians are among the communities that would be covered, according to the notification, which also notes that applications must be submitted online. According to Ministry of Home Affairs sources, the order was issued under the Citizenship Act, 1955, and the Citizenship Rules, 2009, rather than the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, because its rules have not yet been drafted.
The notification states, “The Collector or the Secretary, as the case may be, on being satisfied with the suitability of the applicant, grants him the citizenship of India by registration or naturalization and issues a certificate of registration or naturalization, as the case may be, duly printed from the online portal and signed by the Collector or the Secretary, as the case may be, in the form as prescribed in the said rules.”
Under section 16 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 the central government directed that powers exercisable by it for registration as a citizen of India, or for grant of certificate of naturalization shall also be exercisable by the collector (District Magistrate), within whose jurisdiction the applicant is ordinarily resident. Section 16 of the Citizenship Act 1955: The Central Government may, by order, direct that any power which is conferred on it can be exercisable also by such officer or authority as may be so specified. However, powers mentioned in section 10 (certificate of registration to be granted to persons registered) and section 18 (a form of the certificate of naturalization) can be exercised by the central government only. It also granted similar powers to the Home Secretaries of Haryana and Punjab, except for Faridabad and Jalandhar.
Powers were extended to 13 district office states which are: Morbi, Rajkot, Patan and Vadodara of Gujarat, Durg, and Balodabazar from Chhattisgarh, Jalore, Udaipur, Pali, Barmer, and Sirohi from Rajasthan, Faridabad, and Jalandhar from Haryana and Punjab respectively.
It includes the power to accept, verify and approve citizenship applications from members of minority communities hailing from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. It lists Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians as the communities that will be covered. In 2018, the Government had granted similar powers to Collectors and Home Secretaries of states such as Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi concerning certain districts.
Citizenship signifies the relationship between individual and state. Citizens are full members of the Indian State and owe allegiance to it. They enjoy all civil and political rights. There are two well-known principles for the grant of citizenship: While ‘jus soli’ confers citizenship based on place of birth, ‘jus sanguinis’ gives recognition to blood ties. From the time of the Motilal Nehru Committee (1928), the Indian leadership was in favor of the enlightened concept of jus soli. The racial idea of jus sanguinis was also rejected by the Constituent Assembly as it was against the Indian ethos. Constitutional Provisions: Citizenship is listed in the Union List under the Constitution and thus is under the exclusive jurisdiction of Parliament. The Constitution does not define the term ‘citizen’ but details of various categories of persons who are entitled to citizenship are given in Part 2 (Articles 5 to 11). Unlike other provisions of the Constitution, which came into being on 26th January 1950, these articles were enforced on 26th November 1949 itself, when the Constitution was adopted.
The Bill amends the Act to provide that the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, who entered India on or before 31st December 2014, will not be treated as illegal migrants. Exclusion: The migrants, who identify themselves with any group or community other than Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians, from the above-mentioned countries won’t be eligible for citizenship.
The citizenship provisions for illegal migrants will not apply to two groups: states protected by the “Inner Line” and places covered by the Constitution’s Sixth Schedule. ILP (Inner Line Permit): Citizens from other areas of India must obtain special authorization in order to enter a state protected by the ILP regime. An Indian from another state cannot visit a state that is subject to the ILP regime without first obtaining an ILP from the state government. Sixth Timetable: The Sixth Schedule is concerned with particular requirements in the administration of some Northeastern states (Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya, and Tripura).
Under The Citizenship Act, 1955, one of the requirements for citizenship by naturalization is that the applicant must have resided in India during the last 12 months, as well as for 11 of the previous 14 years. The amendment relaxes the second requirement from 11 years to 5 years as a specific condition for applicants belonging to the specified six religions, and the above-mentioned three countries.
On December 12, 2019, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2019 (CAA) was signed into law. The rule exempted Muslims from citizenship and sparked hundreds of rallies around the country, beginning at two universities in New Delhi and then at Shaheen Bagh in the national capital, which served as an inspiration for protest sit-ins around the country. The Shaheen Bagh protest has shut down one lane of the Delhi-Noida highway. Hundreds of petitions questioning the legitimacy of the CAA were filed at the Supreme Court as the protests continued.
With this landmark step of ‘CAA’ moving further, the government looks confident enough, to take forward steps of implementing their policies set in the framework ever since the government was formed.