The Rajya Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on December 11th, 2019. The controversial legislation was tabled in the Rajya Sabha by Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
The Bill has been slammed by students’ bodies as well as opposition parties for allegedly discriminating against Muslim migrants and violating Article 14 of the Constitution, which mandates equality for all. The agitators said that the Bill nullifies the historic 1985 Assam Accord. The Lok Sabha had cleared the Bill on December 9th, 2019.
The move has however upset the people along with the opposition and student bodies as they continue to show their resentment against the Bill.
A day after back-to-back total shutdown in Assam to protest against the Bill, fresh protests erupted in the state on December 11th, 2019.
To tackle the situation, the police had to fire rubber bullets, use water cannons and resort to lathi charge on the protestors in Dibrugarh and Guwahati.
The Bill seeks to grant citizenship to six communities – Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Parsis who had migrated to India without valid travel documents and reached the Indian territory on or by December 31st, 2014.
The agitators said that the Bill nullifies the Assam Accord which has fixed March 24th, 1971 as the cut-off to identify illegal foreigners.
The central government has deployed the Army to Tripura and Assam to curb protests against the controversial Bill.
Here are the top 10 things you need to know about Citizenship Bill:
- Nothing in this section shall apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya Mizoram and Tripura as included in the VI schedule of the constitution and the areas covered by the ‘Inner Line Permit’ under the Bengal Eastern and Frontier Regulation 1873.
- The amendments proposed in the Citizenship Act, 1955 will extend the facility of Indian citizenship to a specific class of persons who are presently facing hardships and difficulties in acquiring citizenships.
- Under the provisions of the law any person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who entered into the Indian territory on or before December 31st, 2014 and has been exempted by the Central Government by or under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 or from the application of the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1964, shall not be treated as illegal migrant.
- The Act will be call Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
- The Citizenship Act 1955 says those seeking citizenship must have lived in India for 12 months before their application and for 11 years of the previous 14 years. The amendment seeks to relax the second requirement from 11 to six years for non-Muslim applicants from the three neighbouring countries.
- The Bill was cleared by the Union Cabinet on December 4th. The Bill will not face any opposition in the Lower House due to BJP’s absolute majority and was passed on December 9th, 2019.
- Not many are happy with the Bill as they think “it is detrimental to the indigenous people of Northeast”. Assam including other Northeastern states has erupted in massive protests across the region.
- The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was introduced in Lok Sabha on July 19th, 2016 to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955.
- The Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha on December 11th, 2019. 125 votes went in favour of the Bill, 105 votes were against the Bill.
- Congress Interim President Sonia Gandhi marked it a dark day in the constitutional history of India.
Photo: Smita Rani Deka