India is a ‘secular’ country which doesn’t recognize any particular religion as its official religion.It is known for its ‘Unity in Diversity’ with its citizens belonging to different faiths, religions, races and castes.India is known for remaining a Democratic State without any coup and any other major revolts damaging it’s political structure. However religious or communal fights between Hindus and Muslims are quite common and are now catching a serious pace due to turning the state of Jammu and Kashmir into three separate Union Territories, Supreme Court’s verdict on Ram Janmabhoomi case and the recent CAA( Citizenship Amendment Act ) and NRIC( National Register of Indian Citizens ).
In one sense we can say that the consequent actions of the BJP government which more or less seems to be against Muslim community can be a reason for the raising oppositions to the CAA and NRC .However , like a coin has two sides , CAA and NRC are having both negative and positive sides.Lets discuss about CAA and NRC in brief and about Government’s and Supreme court’s view on them.
WHAT IS CAA ?
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 has triggered widespread protests across India. The Act seeks to amend the definition of illegal immigrant for Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Buddhist and Christian immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who have lived in India without documentation. They will be granted fast track Indian citizenship in six years. So far 12 years of residence has been the standard eligibility requirement for naturalisation.
The anger over the CAA led to street protests, first in Assam that later spread to Delhi and other parts of the country.
At the first hearing on petitions challenging the CAA, the Supreme Court declined to stay the contentious law but asked the Centre to file its reply against the petitions that say it violates the Constitution. The petitioners say the Bill discriminates against Muslims and violates the right to equality enshrined in the Constitution.
Question 1 – Does this mean that Muslims of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will never be able to take citizenship of India?
Answer: Section 6 of the Citizenship Act provides for any foreign person to acquire Indian citizenship through naturalization, besides registration under section 5 of this law. Both these provisions exist as they are.
Question 2 – Will Muslim immigrants illegally coming to India from these three countries be sent back under the citizenship law?
Answer – No. The citizenship law has nothing to do with sending any foreigner out of India. The process of sending any foreign national out of the country, irrespective of religion or country, is done under the Foreigners Act 1946 and / or the Passport (Entry into India) Act 1920.
Question 3– Will the Citizenship Amendment Act gradually exclude Indian Muslims from Indian citizenship?
Answer- No, the citizenship amendment law will not apply to any Indian citizen in any way.
All Indian citizens are entitled to the rights, which is guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. CAA does not mean denial of citizenship to any Indian.
Instead it is a special law that will give Indian citizenship to foreign nationals, especially people from three neighboring countries who are facing some special circumstances.
What is Centre’s logic behind the bill?
Centre says these minority groups have come escaping persecution in Muslim-majority nations. However, the logic is not consistent – the bill does not protect all religious minorities, nor does it apply to all neighbours. The Ahmedia Muslim sect and even Shias face discrimination in Pakistan. Rohingya Muslims and Hindus face persecution in neighbouring Burma, and Hindu and Christian Tamils in neighbouring Sri Lanka. The government responds that Muslims can seek refuge in Islamic nations, but has not answered the other questions.
WHAT IS NRC ?
At its core, the NRC is an official record of those who are legal Indian citizens. It includes demographic information about all those individuals who qualify as citizens of India as per the Citizenship Act, 1955. The register was first prepared after the 1951 Census of India and since then it has not been updated until recently.
So far, such a database has only been maintained for the state of Assam. However, on November 20, Home Minister Amit Shah declared during a parliamentary session that the register would be extended to the entire country.
Who is a citizen of India?
As per the Citizenship Act, 1955, every person born in India:
(a) on or after the 26th day of January 1950, but before the 1st day of July 1987;
(b) on or after the 1st day of July 1987, but before the commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003 and either of whose parents is a citizen of India at the time of his birth;
(c) on or after the commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003, where-
(i) both of his parents are citizens of India; or
(ii) one of whose parents is a citizen of India and the other is not an illegal migrant at the time of his birth, shall be a citizen of India by birth.
Why was NRC updated for Assam?
This has been a state-specific exercise to keep its ethnic uniqueness unaltered. In 2013, Assam Public Works and Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha & Ors filed a writ petition before the Supreme Court demanding the deletion of illegal migrants’ names from voter lists in Assam.
In 2014, the SC ordered the updation of the of NRC, in accordance with Citizenship Act, 1955 and Citizenship Rules, 2003 in all parts of Assam. The process officially started in 2015 and the updated final NRC was released on August 31, with over 1.9 million applicants failing to make it to the NRC list.
After protests of the exclusion of many Hindus from the list, the home ministry declared that the NRC will be carried out again in Assam.
Ever since the implementation of the NRC in Assam, there has been a growing demand for its nationwide implementation. Now, many top BJP leaders including Home Minister Amit Shah have proposed that the NRC in Assam be implemented across India.
It effectively suggests to bring in a legislation that will enable the government to identify infiltrators who have been living in India illegally, detain them and deport them to where they came from.
IS IT AGAINST MUSLIMS ?
There is a perception that has gathered steam that the CAA will deny rights to Indian Muslims. The truth is,
the Act can’t do it even if anyone tries to. This perception is due to a connection made between CAA and
proposed nationwide NRC. While the CAA makes it easier for the non-Muslim immigrants from India’s three
Muslim-majority neighbours — Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan — to become citizens of India, it
cannot take away the citizenship of Indian Muslims. Even a proposed pan-India NRC can only detect illegal
immigrants and detain them, who can be from any faith. Moreover the nationwide NRC is still at a proposal
There are two kinds of protests that are taking place across India right now against the Citizenship
Amendment Act. In the northeast, the protest is against the Act’s implementation in their area. Most of
them fear, if implemented, a rush of immigrants may alter their demographic and linguistic uniqueness. In
the rest of India, like in Kerala, West Bengal and in Delhi, people are protesting against the exclusion of
Muslims, alleging it to be against the ethos of the Constitution. But this protest, unlike in the northeast, is
primarily driven by the fear that the CAA will work against Indian Muslims, which in turn stems from the
flawed linking of the Act with NRC.
GOVERNMENTS RESPONSE :
In a series of tweets, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to people to “maintain peace, unity and brotherhood”. “It is my appeal to everyone to stay away from any sort of rumour mongering and falsehoods,” he said. The PM said he wants to “unequivocally assure my fellow Indians that CAA does not affect any citizen of India of any religion. No Indian has anything to worry regarding this Act.”
Union Home Minister and BJP chief Amit Shah tweeted that CAA “is not to take away citizenship of any Indian.” “Some parties are spreading rumours and inciting violence for their political interest. I request students to go through the CAA once and not fall in their trap,” Shah said.
SUPREME COURT RESPONSE :
Supreme court refused to stay the implementation of citizenship amendment act ,2019. Chief justice of India Sharad A. Bobde instead orally suggested to the government to publicise the actual intent of the Act so that there was no confusion among public about its aims and objectives.
NEGATIVE EFFECTS SPECULATED :
The arbitrariness of the bill lies not just in its exclusions: for instance, it has kept out Tamil refugees (a majority of whom are Hindu), by excluding Sri Lanka entirely. The law has limited India into accepting non-Muslim refugees from only three Muslim-majority neighbours, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. India shares a border with Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal, and it is widely known that sections of minorities are persecuted in these countries too. For example, Ahmediyas and Hazaras in Pakistan, Bihari Muslims in Bangladesh and Rohingyas in Myanmar, whom the United Nations has termed the “most persecuted community in the world”.
In practice, the combined effect of the NRC and CAA will be to declare Muslim residents of India as non-citizens, and non-Muslim immigrants as citizens. For this reason and more, the international human rights organisation, Amnesty International, has said that this amendment to the Citizenship Act of 1955 is a “bigoted law that must be immediately repealed”.
However , drawing a definite conclusion is a difficult task in this case as both government and petitioners are right in the way they are looking at CAA and NRC.