CAA implemented: Rules eased for seeking Indian citizenship

Home Minister Amit Shah hailed the move, stating it fulfills the promise to minorities persecuted on religious grounds in the specified countries. The CAA, coupled with the government’s plan for a National Register of Citizens (NRC), had sparked nationwide protests over concerns about exclusion of Muslims.

| Updated: 12 March, 2024 12:09 pm IST
The Modi government announced the implementation of CAA.

NEW DELHI: The long-awaited Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) has been implemented by the Modi government. The CAA aims to grant Indian citizenship to refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh who faced religious persecution and sought shelter in India before December 31, 2014. In a significant move, the Centre has notified rules easing the process for individuals seeking Indian citizenship under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA).

The amendment aims to provide citizenship to persecuted minorities – Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians – from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. The rules for implementing the CAA have been notified by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

These rules, called the Citizenship (Amendment) Rules, 2024, enable eligible individuals to apply for Indian citizenship through a completely online process. Eligible individuals can submit applications for Indian citizenship online without the need for extensive documentation.

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Previously, applicants were required to produce a valid passport or visa, but the new rules allow for a broader range of documents to establish nationality, including birth certificates, educational institution certificates, and land or tenancy records. Notably, documents proving lineage to these countries’ citizens, even beyond their validity period, are acceptable.

Home Minister Amit Shah hailed the move, stating it fulfills the promise to minorities persecuted on religious grounds in the specified countries. The CAA, coupled with the government’s plan for a National Register of Citizens (NRC), had sparked nationwide protests over concerns about exclusion of Muslims.

The government asserts that the CAA is not discriminatory and does not violate the principle of secularism. It emphasizes that the law aims to provide shelter to those who have faced religious persecution. The implementation of the CAA fulfills a promise made by the BJP in its 2019 Lok Sabha election manifesto.

The notification of the CAA comes just weeks before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, indicating its significance as a campaign platform. Opposition parties, particularly in states like West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, have opposed the CAA, citing concerns about discrimination and communal harmony.

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Opposition-ruled states have expressed reluctance to implement the CAA. However, the amended rules reduce the state’s role in the citizenship-granting process, with applications now processed by empowered committees instituted by the Centre.

The legal challenge to the CAA primarily revolves around its constitutionality under Article 14, which guarantees equality before the law. Critics argue that the law’s religious criteria violate this principle. The Supreme Court has yet to pronounce its verdict on the matter. The notification of rules marks a significant development in the implementation of the CAA, offering hope to thousands of persecuted minorities seeking refuge in India.

Overall, the implementation of the CAA marks a significant development in India’s citizenship laws and could impact political dynamics leading up to the upcoming elections.

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