What is Citizenship Amendment Bill: All you need to know about CAB
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill or CAB, which grants Indian citizenship to the non-Muslims of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will now go to the President for his assent. As many as 125 lawmakers voted in the favour of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and 99 against it.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill voting in Rajya Sabha was taken up after six hours of debate on the legislation. Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice President Venkaiah Naidu had allotted the six-hour time to the MPs to discuss the Indian citizenship bill.
Besides the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), the CAB was supported by JD(U), SAD, AIADMK, BJD, TDP and YSR-Congress. The Shiv Sena did not participate in the voting. The citizenship bill was on Monday passed by the Lok Sabha with a majority of 311 votes against 80. Here is all you need to know about the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill or CAB:
WHO GETS THE INDIAN CITIZENSHIP?
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill proposes to grant citizenship to the non-Muslims Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhist, Jains and Parsis — from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who arrived in India before December 31, 2014.
In other words, the CAB paves way for Indian citizenship to lakhs of immigrants, who identify themselves with any of the given religions, even if they lacked any document to prove their residency. It also means that any immigrant who does not belong to the said communities would not be eligible for Indian citizenship.
Also, as per the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, any illegal immigrant from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who belongs to these said communities will not be deported or imprisoned if they are not carrying any valid documents for their residency in India.
Earlier, the duration of the immigrants’ residency was 11 years. The amended bill has reduced it to five years. This means that immigrants from the three countries and from the mentioned religions, who have entered India before December 31, 2014, would not be treated as illegal immigrants.
CAB EXEMPTS CERTAIN AREAS OF NORTH-EAST, OCI CARDHOLDERS
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill exempts certain areas in the North-East from this provision.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill would not apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura as included in Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and the area covered under the Inner Limit notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.
This effectively means that Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram along with almost whole of Meghalaya and parts of Assam and Tripura would stay out of the purview of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
Besides, the citizenship bill also makes amendments to provisions related to the Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cardholders.
As per the citizenship bill, a foreigner may register as an OCI under the 1955 Act if they are of Indian origin (e.g., former citizen of India or their descendants) or the spouse of a person of Indian origin.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill entitles the OCI cardholders to benefits such as the right to travel to India, and to work and study in the country. The Citizenship Bill, which was passed in the Rajya Sabha, amends the Act to allow cancellation of OCI registration if the person has violated any law notified by the Central government.
OPPOSITION SEVERELY CRITICISES CAB PASSAGE
The Opposition parties severely criticised the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill by Parliament, with Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi saying it marks a “dark day” in the constitutional history of India and is a “victory of narrow-minded and bigoted forces” over the country’s pluralism.
Several senior Congress leaders indicated that the party may move the Supreme Court against the citizenship bill with Abhishek Singhvi saying that the legislation will be legally challenged in the near future as it is “highly suspect” in terms of constitutionality.
Hitting out at Home Minister Amit Shah over his remarks in support of the Bill, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram told reporters, “The Home Minister says 130 crore people are supporting us, obviously he does not count Assam, Northeast and all other protesters as part of the 130 crore.”
“No one in the government would take responsibility for the content of the CAB or its constitutionality. The intent of the Bill is to tell the Muslims ‘you are not equal human beings with equal rights’,” P Chidambaram said on Twitter.
CAB TOTALLY DESTROYS MINORITIES: HD DEVE GOWDA
Former prime minister HD Deve Gowda on Wednesday said he was opposed to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill as “it will totally destroy minorities and is unconstitutional”.
The Janata Dal (Secular) president said the Bill was contrary to the principles of secularism and other rights incorporated in the Constitution.
“You can’t go against secularism and other constitutional principles,” HD Deve Gowda said, adding, “I can’t support such a Bill as it would create unrest in the country.
Trinamool MP Derek O’Brien too termed the Bill as “unconstitutional” and warned of people’s movement against the Bill. He also said it would be challenged in the Supreme Court. He said the present bill has been drawn from “Nazi Coffee Book” and is part of BJP’s “agenda”.
Samajwadi Party MP Javed Ali Khan said through the proposed legislation, the BJP was fulfilling the dream of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.
CITIZENSHIP BILL NOT TO SNATCH ANYONE’S INDIAN CITIZENSHIP: AMIT SHAH
To repeated questions from the Opposition of Muslims being left out, Home Minister Amit Shah said Muslims from other countries have the right to apply for Indian citizenship as per existing rules. As many as 566 Muslims have been given citizenship, he said.
He attacked opposition the Congress saying statements by the party’s leaders match those of Pakistani leaders on not just the citizenship bill but also on scrapping of Article 370.
Amit Shah said the bill seeks to correct the wrong done by the partition of the country on religious lines. He went on to attack the Congress for alleged doublespeak on the issue, saying the party had during its rule given Indian citizenship to 13,000 Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan without raising a word about the same for other communities.
He also said the bill does not violate Article 14 of the Constitution as it does not prohibit laws based on reasonable classification.